Citizens’ forum seeks permanent solutions to prevent future flood risks

Citizens’ forum seeks permanent solutions to prevent future flood risks

The city needs a systematic solution from administrators and the government to prevent floods.

“If a roof leaks, the roof needs to be fixed. Changing the bucket that has been collecting water from the leaky roof will not do good,” said Vyasai Thozhargal founder Sarath Kumar at the ‘Kelu Chennai Kelu’, a forum organised by Citizen Platform and anti-corruption organisation, Arappor Iyakkam, at Valluvar Kottam, in Zone 9, on Sunday.

Many, including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Tambaram MLA S.R. Raja, and singer Chinmayi Sripaada, took part in the event to highlight their ordeal during the floods, and the reasons and possible solutions.

V. Suresh, National General Secretary of the People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) said, “The next step is raising awareness among people to avoid purchasing developments close to ecologically sensitive areas or waterbodies. A website for Citizen Platform will be launched soon, in which information collected on the flood situation in several regions for the past 50 years – with maps, photographs and data – especially of Chennai’s North region, will be made available.”

Jayaram Venkatesan, co-founder of Arappor Iyakkam, stated that the audit has been sent to the government and officials, urging them to work, and ensure floods do not reoccur. He added that this event is the first step of several more on flood control in Chennai.

The issue of waterbodies took centre stage at the event. Federation of Velachery Welfare Associations member S. Kumar Raja, 65, opposed the Eco-Park planned at the Perungudi dumpyard close to the Pallikaranai marshland, and claimed that efforts must be made by local bodies to restore the land to its original state.

J. Sankar, Coordinator for the Federation of Sunnambu Kolathur Residents’ Welfare Associations, suggested shifting the dump yard to increase the rainwater catchment area, creating lakebed-level sluice gate for all waterbodies around the marshland to divert flow during heavy downpours, and removing the encroachments.

Students residing in Kannagi Nagar alleged that over 2,600 homes were affected during the floods, and locals from Ennore, such as Kamala Kannan, 33, stated that encroachments by both public and private parties around every waterbody in the area were the reason for floods in the 2023 December rain.

Haris Sultan of Arappor Iyakkam mentioned that if the 106 waterbodies were desilted regularly before rain, making them at least 10 feet deep, the stagnation levels can have been reduced. Further, several welfare associations requested people’s participation in cleaning waterbodies, such as Chitlapakkam lake, which was restored recently by the public.

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