Contractors stay away from projects citing lack of profit

It has been over four months since the government ordered the rejuvenation of four water bodies in the city suburbs. But, the project is yet to take off as no bidders have come forward so far. The Water Resources Department had issued a Government Order in December about desilting water bodies in Cholavaram, Nemam, Porur and Ayanampakkam to create additional storage that could used to supply water for the city. The department had proposed to increase the storage by nearly 600 million cubic feet at a cost of Rs.130 crore. On an average, about 1,000 mcft is drawn to supply 810 million litres a day to Chennai.

However, there has not been any progress in the project that was scheduled to commence in April, say residents. Residents point out the potential benefits of the project would be lost if the capacity of the water bodies is not increased before the onset of the rains.

WRD officials say that though tenders were floated twice, there were no takers. As per the proposal, nearly 100 cubic metre of silt was to be excavated by the contractors who were to pay the government around Rs. 66 crore for it. The contractors could then sell the silt to private construction projects or even the Outer Ring Road (ORR) project.

However, contractors point out that the rate cited by the government is far above market rates. The department has now approached the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company to use the silt in their ORR project. Samples of soil are being tested to check suitability. A decision on lowering the price of silt quoted would be taken if the soil is found not suitable for the ORR project, an official said.

It is vital that the project begin in summer as otherwise, it might have to be suspended mid-way once the rains come, say residents. “Every time, it rains heavily, the surrounding areas get inundated. We will be able to escape the problem this year if the lake gets deepened and the surplus courses get desilted,” said R. Eswaran, a resident of Ayanampakkam.

Residents of Porur fear that encroachments would mushroom if the water body does not receive adequate attention. “People continue to toss garbage bags and let sewage into the lake. I hope that the ambitious project will not be shelved,” said K. Javed, a resident of Porur. Fencing the vulnerable portion is necessary to prevent from further abuse, he added.

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