Once a flowing canal providing irrigation for vast expanses of agricultural land in the southern part of the city, the Irattai Vaical is now clogged with plastic waste with no trace of water left.
The vaical running through Varaganeri and Tharanallur was part of a network of canals which provided water to agricultural fields in the Ariyamangalam area. However, since the locality began moving towards urbanisation, the vaical has been reduced to a dumping ground, rue residents.
Irattai Vaical, which got its name from two canals – Tharanallur and Devadhanam, which ran parallel, was initially maintained by the Public Works Department but has since been transferred to the Tiruchi Corporation.
Claiming that civic body cleans the vaical regularly, N. Ravichandran, Corporation Commissioner, was critical about the tendency of a section of residents to keep dumping garbage.
The residents ought to be more responsible, he felt. “We use earth-movers to clean the Irattai Vaical regularly. However, people continue to dump plastic covers and garbage there. The situation becomes very difficult especially during monsoon as the water has nowhere to go. It ends up flowing into people’s houses which have been constructed very close to the embankment,” he said.
The residents in the urban slum settlements around the vaical, which was a tributary of the Uyakkondan river and flowed into the Cauvery, use it as an open toilet now. “There are lots of parents who encourage their children to urinate in the canal. There is a school nearby, sometimes the children too urinate here on their way back from school,” said a resident in Tharanallur.
The lack of a systematic drainage plan in the area adds to the problem. Most houses are not connected to an underground drain or a leech pit but have a pipe directing all the waste water into the canal.
Residents, however, blame the corporation’s apathy. “We have been asking for an underground drainage system for a long time. An underground drainage system (UGDS) has been planned by the civic body but nothing has reached Tharanallur so far,” said M. Rajesh, a resident in Tharanallur.
He also complained that the Corporation does not ensure regular waste collection, and so, the people have no choice but to throw their garbage into the canal.
“Earlier, sanitation workers from the corporation used to come door-to-door to collect garbage. But, in recent times, they are nowhere to be seen. The large garbage trucks found in other parts of the city, too, aren’t seen here,” said Mr. Rajesh.
Activists, too, maintain that encroachments along the canal need to be removed and the canals revamped.
“After recovering from the floods that affected the city in 2005, the Corporation promised to remove all encroachments. This, however, has not happened as yet. Tiruchi has three twin-canals in Vayalur, Thennur and Varaganeri. All three connecting the Uyyakondan to the Cauvery have the combined capacity to address water shortage in any corner of the city,” said N. Ramakrishnan, a civic activist.
He added that the Corporation along with the PWD must draw up new plans to revive the twin canals and put it into action before time runs out.
(source : The Hindu)