Streets in Ullagaram–Puzhuthivakkam are severely damaged thanks to underground drainage project; despite protests, no action has been taken

Navigating stretches of dug-up roads has become a way of life for several hundred residents of Ullagaram – Puzhuthivakkam.

Roads in this thickly-populated pocket in south Chennai, have been severely damaged for years for years now, after they were dug up to lay main and distribution lines as part of a massive underground drainage project, leaving them in completely disarray. The project is being executed by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, and its original estimate in 2008 was Rs. 28 crore.

 Last Friday morning, a lorry’s tyres were trapped after sinking into thick layers of slush on Ponniamman Koil Street.

As this street is an important link and a short-cut to Velachery, Adambakkam, Alandur and St. Thomas Mount from Madipakkam, Ullagaram and Puzhuthivakkam, traffic came to a grinding halt during the morning rush hour.

 Several hundred residents, including students, on their way to offices and railway stations at St. Thomas Mount and Velachery suffered immensely. The lorry, with a full load of bricks was on its way to the Inner Ring Road from Madipakkam, when its tyres sunk.  Children walking to private and government-aided schools found it extremely difficult to negotiate the stretch.

Those on bicycles had to take a circuitous route, according to K. Ganesan, a resident of the street. The street had been dug up only recently to lay distribution main lines for the drainage project.

“Our locality is home to many former and current government officials. Elected representatives pass through the streets every day and I wonder why they do not raise this problem in forums concerned,” Mr. Ganesan added.

 Incensed over the frequent incidents of school students and elders falling on the roads, residents resorted to a spontaneous protest last week. But there was no positive response from State government agencies, forcing residents in some of the worst-affected streets to shell out huge sums of money to carry out temporary patchwork repairs.

 Ullagaram – Puzhuthivakkam was once a town panchayat before it was upgraded to a municipality, and merged with Chennai Corporation last year. Merger with the Corporation however, has not improved the quality of basic amenities here.

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