The project on grid system of roads is expected to improve 360 crucial stretches

Last Friday, the Chennai Corporation officially authorised five contractors to take the first step towards giving shape to one of the most innovative engineering ideas being pursued in the past four months—integrated development of a Rs.333-crore grid system of roads in eight newly added zones.

The project on grid system of roads funded for the most part by the State government under the mega city development mission is expected to improve 360 crucial stretches.

The 16 packages of the work authorised by the civic body on Friday would cover 179 of the 360 roads to be developed under the mega city development mission.

Even though the Chennai Corporation was planning to start work in all the roads this week, a lack of proper response from contractors for 15 remaining packages emerged as the first hurdle.

This means that residents of all wards in the Tiruvottiyur zone and a number of wards in other zones will experience a time lag of around two weeks before work on development of the road grid system takes off.

This opening hurdle is likely to be addressed after the re-tender process for the remaining packages is finalised by the first week of May.

Yet, the recent developments in the city indicate that the road ahead may have more hurdles in store for the implementation of the grid system of roads that includes integrated development of footpaths, street furniture, streetlights and stormwater drains.

The local challenges being faced by the civic body in areas such as Mambalam can be an eye opener. The civic body's officials remain helpless whenever the traffic police book cases against its contract labourers who are involved in storm water drain work.

Cases are being booked every week on a regular basis by traffic police in the locality as the large vehicles and construction equipment block traffic in many congested stretches. This has contributed to delay in civic improvement work and has had an impact on the quality of civic construction work also.

Civic improvement work was also affected after several north Indian workers associated with the work were arrested by police on account of its measures to tackle the scare created by bank robbery in the city.

As the officials are yet to find a means to sort out such issues, many congested stretches in newly added areas too are likely to face similar challenges when the Rs.333-crore work gains momentum.

With residents' expectations soaring in the eight zones of Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Ambattur, Valasaravakkam, Alandur, Perungudi and Sholinganallur, the ward-level challenges unique to every locality that would crop up in the coming days have to be overcome only by zonal officials who would be implementing the project.

In a package of works carried out by a single contractor over a period of six months in a stretch, the priority of groups of residents around a proposed road grid may be wide-ranging. A section of the residents may require street lights installed first, some may want the road work to be completed almost immediately and others may desire priority for storm water drains or ducts for cables.

As councillors may take up such issues without bothering about the technical difficulties, the eight zonal officials would have to devise their own strategy that would facilitate the successful implementation of the integrated road grid as planned by Ripon Buildings.

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Aloysius Xavier LopezJune 28, 2012

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