Stormwater drainage channel, a health hazard

It is being more used as a free space for attending nature’s call by passengers, workers

TIRUCHI: A stormwater drainage channel, running to a length of about 20 metres near the Chathiram bus stand I in the city, has been posing a serious health hazard for years together, testifying to the Corporation officials’ indifference and apathy to ensuring public health.

AN EYESORE:The stormwater channel near the Chathiram bus stand in the city. — Photos: R. Ashok.

The entire channel is being more used as a free space for attending Nature’s call by the passengers, passers-by, workers and labourers from a chain of petty shops in the vicinity. The foul stench emanating round-the-clock in the area has been a source of grave threat to public health.

The area is a busy thoroughfare and all the city buses bound for Srirangam, Lalgudi and Thuraiyur pass through the AICUF Hall. But, still, the problem of utilising the channel as a toilet remains unresolved. The irony is that the open defecation has been a common phenomenon at this channel even in broad daylight.

The factors causing the problem are quite many. The channel runs close to the compound of the All India Catholic University Federation (AICUF) Hall. The site has also been the van stand for the past two decades and, obviously, a number of vans, taxis and other vehicles are parked in front of the AICUF Hall. “Ours is a popular stand in the city, where any vehicle is available round the clock,” says one of the van operators.

It is a chain of vehicles which provide the required cover for those attending the Nature’s Call. This was evident from the fact that a few persons were seen walking up to the channel to attend the Nature’s call, well utilising the privacy behind a van. With the stream of passengers attending the Nature’s call all through the day, it is often a tough job for press photographers to focus the lens at the channel and avoid those attending Nature’s call at the site.

Another factor contributing to the nuisance is that a number of buses bound for Ariyalur, Cuddalore, Thittakudi, Neyveli and Perambalur are parked on the road in front of the AICUFF Hall. Obviously, a large number of passengers can be seen loitering in the area, awaiting the bus for their destination.

The absence of a pay-and-use toilet at the site makes these passengers to utilise this channel — the nearest point for attending the nature’s call.

“The entire channel should be covered with concrete slabs. A ‘pay-and-use toilet’ should be built at the site for the convenience of the passengers,” says Fr. Arul Ravi, former Director of AICUF. The AICUF authorities have sought the assistance of the City Corporation authorities for proper maintenance of the channel in the larger interest of public health and hygiene, he says.

The AICUF Hall has been a hosting-centre for conferences and seminars on human rights and social issues. “Several representatives of non-governmental organisations, rights and social activists from different parts of the state hold their meetings here, for evolving an action plan. But the problem of health hazard at the AICUF Hall, by itself, remains a puzzle for years,” says N. Margaret Joeji, Director of ‘Success,’ a city-based non-governmental organisation working for the cause of human rights.

Sathish Tarnas, a social activist, says that a pay-and-use toilet should be constructed to ensure public hygiene. A.C. Titty Albert, Co-ordinator of NalandaWay Foundation, Chennai, says that the first impression a stranger gains about Tiruchi city was the worst. The shifting of the van-stand to another place would deprive the passengers of the privacy.

M. Balaganessin From THE HINDU

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