The project cost of underground drainage work did not cover road restoration work

Residents of Ullagaram – Puzhuthivakkam, formerly a municipality prior to its merger with Chennai Corporation last year, have been putting up with the abysmally poor conditions of streets for a long time.However, their tolerance levels were put to test and in a spontaneous protest last week, they demonstrated on arterial road to highlight the condition of streets in their localities. On Monday, residents staged a demonstration at Madipakkam. They raised slogans against the State Government for not giving priority of restoring roads, even many months after they were dug up for several projects.

The underground drainage project and water supply improvement scheme is currently on in Ullagaram and Puzhuthivakkam at an estimated combined cost of Rs.52 crore. Work on digging up roads for laying the main distribution and feeder lines is completed in many areas apart from construction of lift and sub-pumping stations. However road restoration work have not been taken up in most places.

As road restoration work were not taken up then and even now after its merger with the Corporation, the residents resorted to the protest at Madipakkam ‘koot road’ bus stop.

The protest sparked off after a girl student slipped and fell in the slush following the recent heavy showers.

As the protest took place during rush hours, traffic was affected for some time. Policemen tried to pacify the agitators, but in vain. Local Corporation Councillors reached the spot and spoke to them. Following an assurance that at least temporary measures would be provided, the residents dispersed from the spot.

The residents said that the situation had become so bad that they had no other option other than resorting to a demonstration.

Engineers of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply said that the project cost for underground drainage did not cover road restoration work and that it was the responsibility of the respective local bodies. If the project cost for road restoration too were to be included, the amount would escalate many times.

Not only in Ullagaram, but even in other places where underground drainage project is executed, restoration of roads get delayed as it is a time consuming process of identifying the damaged roads, preparing their list for placing it in the meeting of the elected council, forwarding the list to the State Government and getting its consent. Subsequently, tenders have to be called for. Even today in many areas of Tambaram and Pallavaram municipalities, where the project is on, there have been plenty of complaints from residents about the condition of roads.

Ullagaram and Puzhuthivakkam have been plagued by problems caused due to lack of amenities for several years. Water bodies have vanished due to unplanned development and haphazard construction in addition to encroachments. No effort was made by the repeated elected councils to provide drinking water supply at the doorsteps of residents.

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