The death of a five-year-old boy after falling into a deep open drain at Annai Sathya Nagar at Anna Nagar in the city has triggered outrage among residents who have long been demanding the closure of the massive drains that criss-cross the locality
Although it is one of the prime residential localities in the heart of the city, Anna Nagar is characterised by squalor and unhygienic conditions due to reeking open drains that run in the area.
A network of open drains, most of them originating from residential areas along the Uyyakondan banks, runs across Anna Nagar and Marakkadai before ultimately draining into the Cauvery river near Chinthamani. The drains are massive, about five feet in width and six feet in depth at some places.
For several years, the Corporation has been unable to ensure a proper disposal system for the drains. Often during the monsoon, rainwater mixed with sewerage, flows into many low-lying households.
A few years ag0, the civic body built concrete linings along the open drains on certain stretches and three large sumps in an attempt to prevent stagnation but the problem has not been solved entirely. The drains were also not closed.
“It has been a perennial problem for us and has ended in a tragedy for a hapless family. We have long been seeking the closure of drains. Apart from posing a grave danger, the drains also reek badly. The drains are also a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the menace is unbearable in some parts of the locality,” fumed Kuppan Chettai, a resident of Kannadasan Street in Anna Nagar.
Some locals complain that there have been instances of children slipping and falling into the drains earlier, though they managed to escape or were rescued.
Condemning the official apathy, N. Jamaluddin, another resident, said the Corporation should be held accountable for their callous attitude.
Had the civic body heeded the locals demand for closing the drain, the tragedy could have been averted, said D. Jayakumar, a resident of Annai Sathya Nagar.
Stung by the criticism, Corporation officials on Thursday initiated works to cover the stretch of the open drain, where the boy fell, using concrete slabs.
Residents hope that the civic body would come up with a comprehensive plan to cover all open drains in the locality at least now.