Escalation in the cost of construction material, the elections and a demand for a minor change in design have led to a delay in the implementation of the Rs.815-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme to strengthen minor drains and construct stormwater drains by the Chennai Corporation.

Though work orders for the 12 packages were mostly issued in March, May and June 2010, only about 10-15 per cent of the work has been carried out. Contractors have been demanding that the civic body pay them the difference in costs of materials including sand, steel and cement.

Builders Association of India (Southern Region) immediate past Chairman Mu. Moahan said that in the past one year there had been an escalation of 20 per cent in prices of materials. “Sand is not available and even if we are able to procure, it is very costly. We are also not allowed to use alternative material like sand from crushed blue metal,” he said.

“For any work that goes on for more than six months and is worth above Rs. 50 lakhs, cost escalation must be given. We have been asking officials to consider this demand so that work can be completed soon,” he explained.

Leader of the Opposition in the Corporation Council Saidai P. Ravi, who said the project must be completed from three years of commencement of the work, expressed doubts regarding the same. “It has been over a year since work orders were issued. By now at least 30 per cent of the works must have been completed.

However, according to our assessment only 10 per cent of the work has been taken up. If it goes at this rate, we are afraid it might not be completed within the stipulated three years.” Work was also stopped during the recent Assembly Election.

Several contractors have also sought a slight change in the type of foundation to be used in concreting the bed of the canals.

Corporation Commissioner R. Karthikeyan said that the civic body was the process of sorting out the issue relating to cost of materials. “Only steel and cement are in the list of permitted materials. We cannot provide the difference in cost for sand. As far as the request to change the type of foundation, we have referred it to experts and are likely give the revised orders within a week,” he said.

Captain Cotton Canal, Otteri Nullah, Mambalam Canal, Nandanam Canal, Virugambakkam Canal, Cooum and Buckingham Canal are among the waterways in which works are being taken up. A total of 15 canals, 147.19 km length of arterial drains, 229.37 km of feeder drains, and 95.61 km of collection drains would be covered. The civic body and the Public Works Department are jointly implementing the Rs.1,448-crore scheme for flood prevention.


Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012