Corporation of Chennai alone is not to blame for the delay in the Rs. 1,448 flood mitigation project funded by JNNURM. Work on micro and macro drains is also being handled by the Water Resources Department, which has not made much progress despite an extension of deadline.

With a Rs. 633-crore funding, it has completed only about 29 per cent of macro drains in the northern basin, 19 per cent in the central basin, 48 per cent in the eastern basin and 18 per cent in the southern basin.

If the work had progressed as per schedule, the project would have been complete now. The initial deadline set was between March and July 2012. But now, it is unlikely that the entire project is completed before March 2013.

On why there was a delay, WRD officials said it was because they were able to transport concrete-mixing equipment only during the night on most occasions.

Removal of encroachments was another challenge, they said. About 7,000 persons were enumerated, mostly around Buckingham canal, to be provided with alternate accommodation, but no step was taken to enable their relocation. “We had drawn a tentative list of encroachers while a team from the revenue department delineated the boundary of the canal. Work is still on in the stretches of Otteri Nullah and Virugambakkam Arumbakkam canal,” a WRD official said. The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board tenements that are being constructed at Perumbakkam, where the families will be relocated, will be ready in five months.

The WRD also points to a shortage of manpower in the revenue department as a reason for delay in delineating the boundary of the waterways and widening and desilting of the surplus course of Porur tank.

Work on the construction of a channel from Ambattur tank has also been affected. Moreover, the PWD is unable to construct a diversion channel from Madhavaram tank owing to a legal case.

The co-ordination with other agencies such as Metrowater, Chennai Metro Rail Limited, TNEB and traffic police, necessary to deepen and widen Virugambakkam Arumbakkam canal, is time-consuming, said WRD officials. The dearth of labourers is another major problem affecting the project. Many of them fall sick owing to working in unhygienic conditions as the waterways have been reduced to sewage carriers.

With market predictions of yet another phase of escalation of cost of construction material, the Chennai Corporation and WRD are likely to face more challenges throwing the project schedule out of gear yet again.

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