Proposal for the high-level bridge over the surplus course meets long-standing demand of residents

Residents of some areas near the Chembarambakkam reservoir — one of the water bodies that cater to the city’s drinking water needs — face hardship in travelling whenever the lake’s sluice gates are opened during rains.

The long-pending demand for a high-level bridge may soon be met as the highways department has proposed to build one to replace the causeway.

The causeway built on the reservoir’s surplus course at Kundrathur is the only connectivity to other localities for residents of surrounding areas such as Sirukalathur and Somangalam.

Chembarambakkam reservoir, which has the largest capacity among the city’s four reservoirs, gets inflow from the Nemam and Sriperumbudur tanks, the Bangaru channel that diverts water from the Cooum river, as well as from the Poondi reservoir and neighbouring areas.

Whenever the sluice gates are opened and the lake is filled to the brim, the excess water from the reservoir flows through the surplus course and joins the Adyar river.

The course covers a distance of 15 km and passes through areas such as Kavanur, Sirukalathur, Thirumudivakkam and Tiruneermalai.

Officials of the Water Resources Department said the causeway on the Chennai-Kodambakkam-Sriperumbudur road gets flooded even if only a minimum of 300-400 cubic feet per second of water (cusecs) is released from the lake. (One cusec is equal to 28.3 litres)

In 2005, the course, which has a capacity to carry nearly 33,000 cusecs, received a maximum of 15,000 cusecs during torrential rains in December.

Kamala, a resident of Kundrathur said the road was often washed away at the place where it dips. “Buses would refuse to ply and vehicular traffic would be totally cut off. When the water flows in the surplus course, residents take autorickshaws to either side of the lake and walk over the bund and the sluice gates to reach the other side,” she said.

M. Elango of the Democratic Youth Federation of India said every time the sluice gates were opened, at least 10 feet of water stagnated and rapidly flowed on the road, obstructing traffic. Many residential areas lost access to the roads for several days, he said. “We have been demanding a bridge for 10 years now.”

About 50,000 residents of localities including Poonthandalam, Nallur, Amaramedu, and Kattrampakkam would benefit from the proposed bridge, he pointed out.

“We announce the opening of the sluice gates during the monsoon to help residents prepare for floods. A bridge will definitely help them,” said a senior WRD official.

The Highways is planning to call for tenders soon for the bridge that will be built at a cost of Rs. 2 crore.

Sources in the department said it had decided to construct the high-level bridge after consultation with the PWD. It would take one year to construct the bridge over the causeway that is located nearly 1.5 mt lower than the rest of the Chennai-Kodambakkam-Sriperumbudur road, the sources added.

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