How much do you know about Chennai?
It has the second longest beach line, is home to one of the largest IT parks in Asia, has best-in-class healthcare services in the country and is a ‘hot’ real estate market.
Real estate price in posh areas that include Adyar, Boat Club, Poes Garden and Nungambakkam costs as much as ₹20,000- 30,000 per square feet. Areas in the north of Chennai that include Porur, Manali, Ambattur, Mogappair and those in south such as Kelambakkam, Guduvancheri, Sholinganallur, Chromepet, Oragadam and Perumbakkam are areas where people throng to invest in real estate.
Now, look at the facts.
Did you know that in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur district put together there were originally 3,600 lakes? But, today, estimates are that only 3,000 of them exist.
The area of 19 major lakes has shrunk from a total of 1,130 hectares in the 1980s to around 645 hectares in the early 2000s, reducing their storage capacity, according to records of Tamil Nadu’s Water Resources Department.
Sidco nagar in Villivakkam, Valluvar Kottam in Nungambakkam, parts of Mogappair and Avadi, the OMR IT corridor (built on Pallikarnai marsh) and also the private hospital which was in news for death of patients in ICU after flood waters from Adayar river entered it in the recent rains are constructions on flood plains or tank-beds say experts.
Professor S Janakarajan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies, who is an expert on water management and disaster risk reduction, says there has been large scale encroachment of tank beds and drains in the State.
The areas he marked as flood-prone zones include- Velachery and Pallikaranai; Virugambakkam, Vadapalani, and Koyambedu; Kotturpuram, parts of Nandanam, Adyar, Saidapet behind Taluk office (which is a flood plain area), parts of West Mambalam (which was once a tank) and in north-Madras- Villivakkam- Sidco nagar, Madhavaram and Vyasarpadi. Recently, areas close to Buckingham Canal were also flooded because of diversion of Adyar river water, he added.
Young professionals, who have moved into houses in north-Chennai because of its proximity to railway station and those who bought apartments in south-Chennai in recent years after seeing the rapid increase in real estate prices, are now stranded.
Many pockets in south of Chennai are actually deserted now. Though water has receded, residents haven’t moved back. The State is paying a big price for the unplanned urbanisation and absence of proper drainage systems.