Madurai witnessed torrential rain on Wednesday evening which brought the entire city to a standstill. Not even the Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple was spared. In three hours from 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the city received 420.60 mm rainfall. According to officials, it is the third time in one month that the city faced this amount of rainfall on a single day.
The courtyard outside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple was swamped by the water that came gushing inside the temple during the downpour. The four Chithirai streets encircling the temple were also engulfed by a thick layer of water that also made its way inside the courtyard temple. Courtyard is the place where the ‘Kodimaram’ and the various deities of the temple are placed.
Though the water was pumped out promptly by the temple authorities, it was an unusual sight for devotees who started making videos of the flooded courtyard on their phones. The temple authorities put the blame of muddy rain water entering the temple on the poor drainage arrangement and unscientific planning of the corporation in the Chithirai streets.
The city corporation commissioner Dr Aneesh Sekhar on the other hand told Deccan Chronicle that the drainage couldn’t have discharged the high volume of water that concentrated on streets in such a short time. He also said that remedial measures to avoid such flooding of the temple in future were being evolved.
The Meenakshi temple has a well-devised and maintained drainage system with two outlets. It has been laid in a way that the water that enters the premise from the south Aadi street and the terrace of goddess Meenakshi’s sanctum sanctorum cascades to the golden lotus tank inside the temple resulting in its refilling.
According to a report by the Times of India, rain water often enters the temple premises but it mostly flows down the roof of the temple and makes its way out swiftly. But the one brought in by Wednesday’s rain was dirty and had entered through the entrance opposite the Lord Sundershwarar shrine. It then gushed down the gilded steps and inundated the golden flag post.
Holding the same opinion as that of the temple authorities regarding the drainage system of the city, national president of association of Consulting Civil Engineers, Sanna Rat Navel said that such problems are caused by following unscientific methods while construction of roads. He told TOI:
“Paver blocks, which are used on all four Chittirai streets around the temple, are a definite no-no.They prevent water from entering the soil and also emit radiation which is harmful. If proper planning had gone into it, this water could have been harvested and stored in the temple car park with proper sloping, and this would have resulted in the soil getting saturated after the next spell of rain.”
It is interesting to note that the Meenakshi Sundereshwarar temple was accorded as the cleanest temple of the country only a couple of days ago. Also, the problem of poor drainage system and management of rain water is not a new one in the city. A story published by The Hindu almost two years ago in November 2015 explains that the problem is not a new one and persists since 20th century.
The article also underscored how the improper development in the city has only worsened the problems of drainage caused by heavy rains. Hence, it is high time that the municipality and the administration of Madurai wakes up to the issue and resolves it timely and effectively.