A gabion wall could provide some respite from a decades-old torment for the Kannammoola Bund Colony residents.

Chellappan and his family of five have lost count of the times floodwater had crashed on their doors. Their house, situated on the banks of the Amayizhanjan canal at the Kannammoola Bund Colony, collapsed thrice in the past two decades. Every other year, they are forced to stay for a few days in a relief camp after their house gets filled with knee-deep water.

“The floods always come back with a vengeance when our lives are back on track. The situation has not changed much since the 1960s when we started staying here,” says Chellappan.

But, the scene could change soon with the completion of the works under the Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme of the JNNURM. In addition to the major work of new houses for the poor families in this area, a gabion wall is also being built along a canal which runs parallel to the new houses. The work which started about five months back is expected to be completed in a month.

The project costing Rs.78 lakh involves cage-like reinforcements over the basic rock structure. The entire structure is slanted.

“One of the major problems was erosion of the shores. The wire cage will act like a spring and prevent the wall from breaking even if there is a heavy flow of water. But it will be highly effective only if it is extended for a distance of 200 metres to the front as there is a chance of water seeping in even now,” says the work supervisor.

Residents point to another problem – the lack of any plan as of now to do similar reinforcement work along the main Amayizhanjan canal. “The Amayizhanjan canal is the source of all floods here. If its banks are not reinforced, then all this good work at the other canal will be wasted,” says Rajan, a resident.

A Corporation official told The Hindu that there were plans for Amayizhanjan canal which could get executed next year. “Both canals were part of the original tender. But, we had to limit it to one canal due to the lack of funds. Even for that one canal, we are depending entirely on the plan fund. Hopefully, the other canal will be taken care of in the next budget,” said the official.

The Amayizhanjan canal which has reduced in width considerably over the past few decades is clogged by waste and weeds. “Usually, every year a pre-monsoon clean-up is held. The earthmover which was brought in this year got stuck in the mud. The workers never came back. The clogging has increased chances of flood,” says Chellappan.