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Owning a home in Chennai, a boon or bane?
This is not to dissuade anyone from buying a home in Chennai. But the fact is the fact! Chennai is among the top real estate destinations in India. The property prices, both within and outside the city, are steadily going up irrespective of the fact that some of the pin codes still to have basic facilities like black-top roads, clean drinking water, clog-free drainage network and reliable power supply.

As an added bonus, people's most cherished homes and swanky cars can go under water during the monsoon aided by depressions in Bay of Bengal. One can imagine the plights of the people living in city's fringe areas, who had spent fortune to own a home there.

They have only houses sans basic amenities - No roads, no sewage and water connections, poor transportation facility, unsafe and unhealthy surroundings, lack of security and utility services like bank, post office, ATMs hospital, etc, and the list just goes on and on. But the real estate prices in these areas are touching the roofs making the salaried class to only day-dream of having a home in Chennai.

But is it worth owning a home in Chennai?

The recent rains brought by a depressed in Bay-of-Bengal and its aftermath flood inundating the so-called posh areas of Chennai and most sought-after areas in the city outskirts have opened up the floodgates of debates again among the denizens that whether or not the city is a megapolis, which is ill-prepared to withstand a few hours of rainfall.

Most of the areas having very high real estate value like Velacherry, Kotturpuram, Anna Nagar, Mugappair, KK Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Porur, Kolathur, Kodambakkam, Valarasavakkam, T-Nagar, to name a few, have been inundated with knee-deep to hip-level water while the entire world witnessed what has happed to the residents of West Tambaram, where water entered houses and remained there for more than a week. More than 100 people lost their lives in the state and properties worth crores have been lost. One could only see the top of the parked cars on the roadsides in several 'posh' areas.

Thambaram-Mudichhur high-way was completely invisible, and areas on both sides looked like a huge lake dotted with partly submerged buildings. Residents remained indoors for days as rescue and relief operations were selective and lackadaisical, allege residents.

Why the areas of West Tambaram, which have not seen such floods over several years, gone under water, making the residents to use of boats to reach various places to meet their daily needs? Rain water got mixed with drainage in several areas and people had horrific experience in finding food and answering nature's call.

Some of the residents allege that real estate sharks, to sell a chunk of their land in low level areas, had illegally changed the course of the rain water flow in West Tambaram which had resulted in flooding in other nearby residential colonies. Several of the water bodies in and around the cities have been usurped by illegal residential colonies, which resulted in flooding in adjoining areas.

Take for example, Alappakkam near Valasaravakkam, which had a huge lake, now became a full-fledged residential area. So, whenever, Porur or Chembrambakkam reservoir overflows, excess water instead of coming into the Alappakkam Lake, now inundates adjoining areas in Virugambakkam, says real estate experts.

Same holds true for areas around Kattupakkam, Kolathur and Madipakkam. Shocking it may be, but as per a recent report in a leading daily, the Porur Lake in West Chennai, whose original area was around 800 acre, has shrunk to a meager 200 acre now, thanks to the overwhelming illegal constructions under the aegis of some political powers and real estate sharks.

So, no one is sure whether one area is safer than other in Chennai. May be this time an area would have been spared from flood, but may not be the next time, thanks to the intelligent planning of officials which lacks farsightedness and wide-spread illegal construction activities by unscrupulous real estate companies.

Another issue in Chennai is the mindless practice of re-laying of roads by the Corporation. Instead of 'milling' the road to remove the old asphalt and then re-lay the road, they lay the fresh aggregate on the old road itself, thereby increasing the road's level by two to four inches every time. This makes the houses on the either side of the road dwarf in few years making them vulnerable to floods.

The construction of ambitious rain water drains, which had started way back in 2011, has not seen its light yet, despite spending fortune on the project. In many areas, flood water entered due to incomplete drain works. Roads have to be cut to drain out the excess water in several areas. Almost all roads in Chennai have been affected due to the recent rain, and to repair or relay them, the government needs huge funding and man power.

This year's flood is not a "once-in-blue-moon affair for Chennaiites. They are used to such conditions and have been suffering for years. It was in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011 and then now in 2015. Every time, precious lives lost, crores worth properties perished, but no lesson learnt.

So, no prize for guessing, whether owing a home in Chennai a boon or a bane? 

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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