When government officials heard citizens out on sewage woes

At the Sakkadai Thiruvizha organised by Arappor Iyakkam, officials from Chennai Corporation, PWD and CMWSSB met citizens from various neighbourhoods, who raised important questions on sewage and pollution of the city's water bodies.


As the sun  began to descend, the already buzzing Koyambedu market road came alive with more action as hundreds of people assembled at a local hotel for the Sakkadai Thiruvizha, organised by Arappor Iyakkam. The event on April 8th was envisioned as a citizen awareness program to highlight the problem of untreated sewage that is being continuously let out into the city’s water bodies, spelling doom for them as well as for the entire ecosystem.

The highlight

Officials from Chennai Corporation, PWD and CMWSSB  came together on a single platform to listen to the woes of the people. It was heartening to see the officials turning up on a Sunday evening, knowing well that they would be subjected to some harsh questioning by residents.   

Over 300 residents from  areas like Villivakkam, Tondiarpet, R K Nagar, Chitlapakkam,  Ramapuram, Korattur, Annanagar West Extension participated.

Spotlight on water and waste

The event began with the volunteers of Arappor Iyakkam taking turns to brief the audience on the various initiatives they have undertaken so far on the issue , the audits that they had conducted and some stark facts that had emerged from these audits .  

Sultan, a volunteer with Arappor spoke at length about the water bodies – the past and the current state. He cited examples of Ambattur, Korattur and Villivakkam lakes that once spanned extensive acres, but have now been reduced to much smaller water bodies, thanks to illegal encroachments and real estate development. He shared that Arappor Iyakkam is working on bringing out an atlas of water bodies as a public information and  Waterbodies Right Act.

Nakkeeran, another volunteer, shared details on the social audit that was conducted to determine the amount of sewage outflow and the quantity that is being treated. Arappor had  earlier brought out a report titled, “Why Chennai stinks,” detailing the working conditions of the pumping stations.

Residents and resident associations  shared their grievances over untreated sewage being let out into water bodies, the lack of adequate underground sewers  and storm water drainage being used as sewage carriers.

Discussion with authorities

A panel discussion chaired  by Prof. S Janakarajan, Retd. Professor, MIDS comprised of officials from Chennai Corporation, Chennai Metro Water,  the Public Works Department and Chennai River Restoration Trust, discussed the issue of sewage disposal and treatment.  The panel discussion was moderated by Jayaram Venkatesan of Arappor Iyakkam.

The officials shared their perspective on the situation and unanimously agreed that there is a lot that needs to be done to address the growing infrastructure and growing population.

Resident representatives from several areas then presented their complaints on issues related to sewage disposal.

The coming together of  government officials from several cross-functioning departments under a single roof, to patiently hear  residents’ woes, was definitely a welcome move. This could well be the first step towards cohesive action for a sewage-free Chennai.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Why the national programme for clean air failed a gasping Mumbai

Mumbai has seen an alarming decline in air quality. A look at the limited impact of the National Clean Air Programme on mitigating pollution.

October 2023 was a shocker for Mumbai. The coastal city has historically recorded lower AQI levels as compared to Delhi, which is notorious for its poor air quality. But the tables turned in October 2023, with AQI in Mumbai reaching dangerously high levels of up to 300, surpassing Delhi for several days. This led to a slew of respiratory ailments, more so among the vulnerable populations. PM2.5 levels have, in fact, seen a consistent increase in Mumbai over the past three years. Dr Jui Mandke, a paediatric surgeon practising in Mumbai, says, โ€œIn October 2023, we encountered the maximum number…

Similar Story

Ottupattarai renewed: From garbage dump to community garden in Coonoor

An initiative by the Coonoor Town Municipality and voluntary organisation Clean Coonoor has diverted tonnes of plastic waste from going to landfills.

Ottupattarai, once marred by the unsightly accumulation of waste in the picturesque hill town of Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, has undergone a remarkable transformation. This was possible through the dedicated efforts of Clean Coonoor, a city-based NGO. Nestled in the highest part of Coonoor, amidst the tea gardens of the Nilgiris, the waste dumping site in Ottupattarai has metamorphosed into a thriving garden that serves as a community space for residents. The makeover journey began in 2014 when 15 dedicated volunteers established Clean Coonoor to initiate sustainable waste management practices in the town. Beginnings of a journey In 2019, Clean…