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Updated: November 1, 2012 10:42 IST

City’s old buildings flounder

Deepa H. Ramakrishnan
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Several structures located on low-lying roads are in danger this monsoon.
Photo: R. Shivaji Rao
The Hindu
Several structures located on low-lying roads are in danger this monsoon. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Fifty years ago, Chennai’s roads were at a much lower level, at least 10 feet below where they are today. Several old buildings are proof of this. They are now several feet below road level.

Fifty years ago, Chennai’s roads were at a much lower level, at least 10 feet below where they are today.

Several old buildings are proof of this. They are now several feet below road level and every monsoon the occupants are forced to bail water out. “I have installed a pump and constructed short walls at both entrances to the building. Every monsoon, the water comes inside the building as there no way for it to go out,” said T.V. Hariharan, vice president, Federation of Associations of Small Industries of India – Southern Region (FASII-SR).

Five associations including the FASII-SR, utilise the fifty- odd-year-old building located on G.S.T. Road in Guindy, in which Mr. Hariharan has his office located.

The building, a quaint-looking structure with Madras tiled roof, stands on land belonging to the SIDCO in the Guindy Industrial Estate. One has to clamber down a few steps from the road to enter the building.

The structure however, is likely to be pulled down soon to make way for a new multi-storied one.

Bang opposite this structure is a row of shops selling industrial tools, gums, cutting blades and fasteners among other things. Here, too, customers have to climb down steps to reach the shops. “Thirty five years ago when our shops were the road was three feet below,” said A. Victor, founder-proprietor, Tamil Nadu Traders.

“As this road is used by VIPs, many times we find that it has been laid overnight, thus increasing its height by two inches. There have been times, before the storm water drain was constructed, when water from the road would run down and our shops would have several feet of water inside,” he recalled.

S. Mohammed Ibrahim of A.K.R. Home Depot Pvt. Ltd., said that apart from rainwater, groundwater also rises up. “I took this shop on rent only last year and the moment I came in we had water coming in and had to install a pump,” he said.

At the home of 67-year-old Sivalingam of Krishna Pillai Garden in Saidapet, there are no pumps. His family and his brother’s are forced to wade through 1.5 feet of water.

“Our house is 10 feet below the road height. Though two pipelines have been connected to the storm water drain on the main road, the drains are always clogged,” he said.

Mindless development by various government agencies has also led to such a situation. “Though a concept called cold milling was introduced to remove the top layer of roads before relaying them, it has been given up slowly. When redoing roads, civic agencies do not take into consideration pedestrians or nearby buildings,” said a planner.

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