In fishing villages, flood fears swell

  • Looking back:A view of a flooded area at Kovalam, near Chennai, during the 2015 floods; residents dug a trench to allow the floodwater to drain into the sea from the residential premises at VGP Layout at Palavakkam on the East Coast Road, last December. —File photos

    Looking back:A view of a flooded area at Kovalam, near Chennai, during the 2015 floods; residents dug a trench to allow the floodwater to drain into the sea from the residential premises at VGP Layout at Palavakkam on the East Coast Road, last December. The people are worried as work to extend the seawall to protect their hamlets is still incomplete

When the city virtually drowned under sheets of water last December, residents living along the fishing hamlets, close to the estuaries, were sitting tight, watching the waters sweep aside sandbars and widen the mouths of the rivers.

“The flood shifted the estuary of the Ennore Creek further south of the broken bridge, which is now inside the sea,” said D. Joseph, a resident of Nettukuppam in Ennore in north Chennai.

“The Water Resources Department has only now begun laying a Kuccha road to place boulders and extend the seawall. We don’t think the work will be completed on time, also because dredging has been stopped. We are afraid the village will be completely destroyed and wiped out with the force of the water, if a similar flood occurs this year,” Mr. Joseph added.

The rush of water for 24 straight days deepened and widened the Vaai padi (where river meets sea), as fishers call the estuary.

The consistent erosion was caused due to the fact that water was flowing uni-directionally and this was because as the rain occurred due to a depression formed and not because of a storm. When rain occurs due to a storm, sea water was usually pushed into the land which worsens flood situations.

Fisherfolk of Ennore have been urging the government to remove flyash and debris from the Kosasthalaiyar river and Buckingham Canal to prevent flooding of north Chennai. In many fishing hamlets, including those along Pulicat lake in Tiruvallur district and in south Chennai, fishermen cut new channels to the sea to let out rainwater. “When the rain stopped, new channels, which were dug across the landscape, helped drain the water,” said K. Bharathi of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association. The Adyar river too pushed mounds of dredged sand.

At Kovalam, two residential colonies that were low-lying remained submerged for some time as a canal leading to Buckingham Canal was blocked by a private company to prevent flooding of their premises, residents said.

“There are many hatcheries too whose tall bunds prevented water from flowing freely. The canal remains blocked till date and I am not sure how the situation will be if there is another flood this year,” said Narayanan, a resident of Kovalam.

Fisherfolk have urged the government to remove flyash and debris from the Kosasthalaiyar river

The original article appeared in The Hindu on September 29 2016 – Read it here

 

 

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