Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVII No. 3, May 16-31, 2017
What use such beauty at the Chetput Eco Park (see here) when sewage is such a beast in the city?
Recent reports of sewage-laden lorries raising a stink and the load being discharged into stormwater channels are disturbing. Sewage is removed and transported because the city’s underground sewage network capacity is inadequate to cope with the existing load. The stench of rotting garbage is a sign of a brewing scam in Koyambedu where, it is reported, the contract for daily removal of 200 tons of biowaste has not been honoured while bills are made and payments effected. Which one is easier for the poor citizen to bear – the stench of garbage or the stench of corruption?
Another recent report describes in harrowing detail the sufferings of the residents of a street in Vadapalani where frequent stagnation of sewage blocking the whole street has kept residents indoors, with windows and doors shut to avoid the stench and the breeding mosquitoes. Temporary reliefs from clogged pipelines, without solving the larger problem with a permanent solution, leads us nowhere. Hazardous attempts at clearing the clogged lines are fraught with risk of asphyxiation and loss of life has been frequently reported. We keep removing the toxic material and dumping it back into waterways and floodwater drains in a vicious cycle. These are signs of a primitive state of our waste water handling system.
The whole business stinks. Real estate in Tamil Nadu is nothing other than a nefarious nexus between builders, officials and politicians. How else can you explain the fact that the last one month has exposed scandal after scandal in this sector, each of which has shown that malpractices continue unabated with everyone cocking a snook at the law?
Let’s start with the latest. A building in Vadapalani caught fire owing to a short circuit. Four people died and the casualties could have been much worse were it not for the efficiency with which the fire service responded. The media, of course, made much of the way some residents swung out Tarzan-like or threw their children down to waiting people below. It was what emerged the next day that showed how avoidable the whole tragedy was. The building had been constructed in complete violation of norms. The Corporation had sealed it in consequence. The owner, a political party functionary, cared two hoots for such bars placed in his progress and proceeded to rent out the place.
Population growth estimates suggest that India will be supporting over 1.5 billion inhabitants by 2050 if the present growth rate of 1.9 per cent a year continues. From 710 billion cubic metres (BCM) in 2010, the demand for water is expected to surge to 1,180 BCM in 2050 as the Planning Commission has predicted a 2.5-time increase in domestic and industrial consumption.
With conventional surface water sources drying up or disappearing over time and borewells getting deeper by the year, sourcing and supplying water have become uphill tasks for corporations and panchayats across urban and rural areas. It is at such a time that seawater desalination is emerging as one of the top alternatives. But the most important question is, is it a viable one?
Four-pillared Vahana Mandapam
The founding of Madras that is Chennai may be a matter of debate but not so that of its suburb– Collettpet or Kaladipettai as it is now referred to. Given our tendency to mix facts with fiction, locals aver that the latter name is correct and credit it to the holy feet (kaal) of Ramalinga Swami of Vadalur having walked this area. But he was born only in 1823. Moreover, the founding of this village, now a part of Chennai, is well documented.
The Government Museum complex in Egmore is an enriching experience. Opened in 1851, it is the second oldest museum in the country and among the largest in Asia. It stands out among other such institutions for its ambience: a complex of red-coloured buildings in Indo-Saracenic style, of high heritage value by themselves, in an area of over 16 acres of greenery.