When chilling can prove deadly

Chennai, April 20: During summer, residents in the suburbs head to the reservoirs to beat the heat. Some of them don’t return from the trip.

According to a Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services (TNFRS) officer, many youngsters, especially school children, get into the reservoirs to bathe and chill with their friends.

“There have been cases of such youngsters getting tired and drowning. Many drowning deaths in the reservoirs, involving teenagers and adults, have to do with drinking. Drowning incidents are more during the monsoon too,” said the officer.

The officer said that in 2015, they attended nearly eight calls from Puzhal and Cholavaram put together. In 2016, around two from Puzhal and Porur lakes were attended by the TNFRS.

“Usually during summer and monsoon, we deploy our vehicles along with swimmers near the reservoirs in case of an emergency. Unlike Cooum or Adyar river, we can easily save a person or even recover the body easily as there wont be any sludge,” added the officer.

For staff members of Water Resources Department, who are deployed to patrol the areas around the large waterbodies in the city fringes, the summer months mean a lot of work.

“Many schoolchildren and teenagers come for a swim, particularly near the main bund and the periphery of the lakes. Whenever we notice them, we ask them to leave as it is a waterbody that meets people’s drinking water needs. In Red Hills reservoir, people from the neighbourhood take a dip near Jones Tower and the waterspread area at Oragadam, Pudur and Thirumullaivoyal. As some of them lack swimming skills, they drown when they go further deep,” said a WRD engineer in Red Hills.

At present, the four reservoirs in Red Hills, Cholavaram, Chembarambakkam and Poondi have about 60 per cent storage of their capacity. Officials of the WRD said they had started providing chain link fencing in some waterbodies such as Porur and Ayanambakkam which are frequented by residents for swimming and washing clothes.

“We have put up boards warning people against swimming and washing clothes as it would pollute the lakes that supplies drinking water to the city. In Chembarambakkam, we have asked Kundrathur police to join us in patrolling. Sometimes, police whisk such people away from the lakes during patrol,” said an official.

The department also plans to increase patrolling along with police and provide chain link fencing around more water bodies. Sources in the WRD said there was a proposal to construct retaining walls around the lakes. But it didn’t take off owing to lack of sufficient funds.