Santhoshi Gaikwad from Singareni Colony woke up at 3 a.m. to an unusual sight. What she thought was rain water gushed into her home. With the water levels rising, she sensed the urgent need to vacate the home. Her family had to first haul the 81-year-old mother-in-law over a shed in the neighbour’s house, before the rest of them clambered up too.
What she later learnt left her totally shocked. It was not rain water, but the Saroornagar lake that paid a visit to her home in the dead of the night. “We never experienced anything like this since 1992, when we started living here. It was horrific, to say the least. I saw my neighbour, an octogenarian gentleman, holding his sick wife aloft in both hands to save her from drowning, but we could not reach out to him,” she recalled in the morning after finding shelter in one of the apartment complexes in the area.
Gopal Reddy, secretary of the adjoining Saraswathi Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, chimed in to say that never was such a deluge seen for the past 40 to 50 years at least.
The damage, however, was not limited to Singareni Colony and Saraswathi Nagar, which fell in the full tank level of the lake’s original spread, as per officials. Surplus water from the lake exceeded the capacity of the drain carrying it to Musi river via P&T Colony, V.V.Nagar, and Hanuman Nagar. Breach in the drain led to inundation of colonies such as Green Park colony, Seesala Basthi and Kondandram Nagar, where the roads were converted into whirling streams.
From there, the water found its natural course to the Musi, submerging several areas up to 4-5 kilometres, besides flooding Vijayawada highway near Chaitanyapuri. Officials had to break the Metro Rail divider to let the water pass on to the other side, inundating the roads in Hanuman Nagar and surrounding areas. All the homes en route lay besieged, with no supplies nor help arriving till late in the day.
“The nala’s carrying capacity should have been kept in mind before dumping water from everywhere in the tank. Rain water from surrounding areas such as Santhosh Nagar, B.N.Reddy Nagar, Vanasthalipuram, and Bairamalguda is being diverted here,” complained G.Kishan, a resident of Kodandram Nagar.
His claim is partially true, officials admit, as a newly constructed stormwater drain brought the water from Meerpet and Jillelaguda areas up to a spot in Karmanghat and left it there.
GHMC was to pick it up from there to link it to Saroornagar lake, before which the torrential downpour worsened the situation. All the water from the two areas found its natural course to the lake nevertheless, causing the deluge.
While the stormwater drains are laid with alacrity, authorities have ignored the need to enhance the volume of surplus canals, rue the residents.