CHENNAI: Despite tall claims by the government about its monsoon preparedness, nearly 55 thousand million cubic feet (tmc feet) of water went down the drain last week, said professor S. Janakarajan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies, who is an expert on water management and disaster risk reduction. That is four times the city’s annual drinking water need (12 tmc feet) and five times the combined capacity of the all the four reservoirs (11 tmc feet).
The city’s annual water requirement should have been fulfilled by now, if not for the poor planning and the failure to protect the existing water channels. Professor S. Janakarajan told Deccan Chronicle, “Chennai has received over 56 cm of rainfall the past week and as it spreads over 426 square km, at least 50 tmcft of water should have been saved by now. Instead of starting the work a year ago, the civic authorities started working on the stormwater drains, just three months ago waving a green flag to disasters.”
He further added that nothing substantial has been done in the three major waterways, including Adyar, Cooum and Buckingham canal. “It is time we achieved the original wet bed of the river for the free flow of water during monsoon. Also, the gradient of the river has ups and downs. For instance, the Adyar river from Manimangalam tank to foreshore estate has numerous obstacles in the form of encroachments, construction debris and near the airport where there is a second runway, the river has a huge jump,” he said adding that the civic authorities seem to be doing nothing about it.
With rivers overflowing after the rains, does not that mean that the water is saved? Janakarajan was quick to answer that most of the rivers in Chennai have become shallower as they have not been desilted for a long time. Experts from the industry also suggest that the water must be saved for flood management. As many as 4,100 tanks in Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram must be maintained for storing water, they pointed.