On July 2, due to seepage of sewage water with Metro Water, around 12000 litres of lorry-delivered drinking water that a few residents of Rajasekaran Street had stored in their sumps got wasted and had to be thrown away as it got completely contaminated with the sewage water.
When the city is facing a severe water crisis, this has left the residents frustrated and helpless at the same time.
The residents say this happened due to the negligence of Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) workers of ward 121 (zone 9) while clearing a sewer block at the main sewage line on this road off Dr Radhakrishnan Salai opposite C.S.I. Kalyani Multispeciality Hospital.
Around 200 families reside here in independent houses and apartment complexes. And most of them have been buying water from Metro Water for their needs.
S.R.Venkateswaran, a resident of this street says, “For 15 days, I have been complaining regarding the block to Metro Water officials of our ward. On June 26, my father S.Ramasamy sent a written complaint regarding this to Chief Engineer of zone 9. But no action was taken. A few days back, after we contacted the Executive Engineer of the zone, they brought JCB excavator and dug up the road at night to clear the block. During that process, a Metro Water pipe that was above the sewage pipe broke. And when the clogged sewage water overflowed from the pit due to blockage, it entered the broken Metro Water pipe and resulted in the contamination of water in our sumps.”
“Since the Metro Water comes through our pipes every alternate day, we did not close the valves that transported Metro Water to our sumps. Also, the stored water was well below the Metro water pipe, so there was no question of water getting sucked in,” he says.
The residents here charge that the sewer block has been happening frequently at this particular point after a restaurant came on this road. “Many times we have seen the restaurant’s staff calling the CMWSSB workers to clear a block here,” says Bhajanlal Hinduja, a resident.
Unknowing of the contamination Bhajanlal had also filled his overhead tank with the water from the sump.”Today I had to spend more than Rs.5000 Rupees to clean the sump, overhead tank and for labour charge. The stench of the sewage water was so severe that the labourers refused to manually remove the contaminated water fearing asphyxiation. And so, it had to be sucked out through machine.”
Other residents on this road were unaffected as they had kept their Metro Water valves closed. Renuka Devi, a resident of a TNSCB tenement in Rajasekaran Lane says, “Since no water was coming we had closed the valve long back.”
A CMWSSB Engineer of ward 121 says, “The line got blocked by solid waste. We found the exact location of the block using the Jet rodding machine. We will clear the issue soon.” However, he did not talk much about the issue of seepage.
- Photo by R.S.Venkateswaran