Why did not water in the tank of Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple overflow or even fill to the brim this monsoon?
Many people, especially those who have a special place for this temple tank in their hearts and minds have asked this question the past week.
This is how rainwater harvesting expert Sekhar Raghavan of Rain Centre explains this situation –
Traditional construction of the tank had created an outlet at the south east end of the tank almost at the top level which would allow rising water in the tank to flow out. This outlet was linked to the Chitrakulam, the tank closeby which had to receive the excess water. So if this system is still working and the pipeline is not blocked, then water has been flowing into the Chitrakulam and perhaps is the cause for water overflowing into the streets around the Chitrakulam recently.
Water in the Chitrakulam as on Wednesday evening was almost to the brimming level.
Mylapore Times physically inspected the south east end of the tank of Sri Kapali Temple. There are two outlets here, as seen in the photo.
Local people said that one outlet was ‘useless’, meaning there was no flow of water any way. It is not clear what the function of this outlet is.
In the second outlet, rainwater from the area outside flows into the tank, people said.
Incidentally, months ago, Chennai Corporation relaid the Tank Street that adjoins the eastern border of the tank of Sri Kapali Temple, constructing outlets and connecting them to pipes all along the street so that rainwater flows into the tank via these outlets, thus tapping much of the rainwater falling on the street. This was a positive step in harvesting rainwater.
Recently, the management of Sri Kapali Temple asked a private institution to study the tank water and soil condition to find ways to retain water in the tank even in the summer season – nothing officially has come out of that exercise.
Sekhar Raghavan says water level drops in this tank because the hundreds of borewells used privately in spaces in this zone tap all the groundwater year-round.