As Chennai plans to remove ‘encroachments’ – dwellings built without planning permission – from water bodies (rivers, streams, ponds, marshes, wetlands and vernal pools (below), Solihull council (UK) is alarming local people by permitting developers to build in or above flood-prone areas – with scant regard to the consequences.
Aloysius Xavier Lopez, whose academic background usefully includes physics and journalism, covers civic issues, urban planning and development for The Hindu in Chennai, formerly known as Madras.
He recently reported in the Hindu that the Chennai Corporation, the city’s civic body, is to to carry out re-engineering of rainwater harvesting facilities, including stormwater drains, over an area of 426 sq. km, recording that:
“A meeting to discuss steps to be taken to improve rainwater harvesting, disaster preparedness, flood mitigation and drought relief in the city was held on Tuesday.
“More than 100 water bodies in the city, excluding the 19 water bodies managed by the Water Resources Department, have been identified as having untapped potential for rainwater harvesting.
“The Corporation is planning to implement re-engineering of structures, including stormwater drains, in the neighbourhood of small lakes and ponds maintained by it. The works are likely to include redesign of stormwater drains, landscaping, desilting and plugging of illegal sewer inlets”.
Chennai listened to residents – but not Solihull
Residents had asked the Corporation to act on a survey, which was completed by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority a few years ago and the rainwater harvesting plans drawn up by an official in one of its districts.
Such action will help to improve the groundwater level and mitigate the problem of floods in vulnerable localities. The re-engineering of rainwater harvesting structures in temple tanks a few years ago has improved groundwater levels in areas such as Thiruvanmiyur in the south of Chennai.
Two floodprone areas of Solihull scheduled for housing, regardless of objections
Solihull councillors will be alerted to the wiser intentions of their counterparts in Chennai.