With no area earmarked for the disposal of construction debris in the city, contractors have been found dumping the refuse wherever they find space.
As there no clear policy in place, banks of water bodies, vast open spaces beneath grade separators, footpaths and the northern part of Jawaharlal Nehru Salai from Anna Nagar to Padi are falling prey to night operators.
Sources in the Thirumangalam police said that they had caught a few vehicles but the drivers had been let off after a stern warning to refrain from dumping debris along Jawaharlal Nehru Salai.
“A portion of the main carriageway has been encroached by debris. We have been on the watch for two weeks now and during the days we spotted only a few. They seem to operate after 3 a.m.,” said a source in the highways department, which has caught at least 20 trucks disposing clay and construction debris. Of the vehicles that have been stopped by engineers of the department, some are operated by contractors with other government agencies.
The illegal dumping has also been hampering the highways’ projects involving the beautification of the spaces beneath the grade separators at Padi and Koyambedu.
“Landscaping work is in progress for both the grade separators. At Koyambedu, the contractor had cleared debris before commencing work. But mid-way through the project now, he is forced to remove the debris that has been illegally dumped. Two earth movers have been working almost non-stop for the past five days to remove the debris that has been dumped there,” said a source.
The department has stepped up vigil and has now formed teams to watch over the facilities at night. However, a former highways engineer said that only a highway patrol like those operating on National Highways Authority of India’s roads and on OMR and ECR would help check the illegal activity.
An engineer retired from government service, said earlier debris was disposed in low-lying areas.
“People also used to purchase debris to fill up plots before constructing homes. But these days, open plots are not found. When any fresh construction is to be taken up, they just demolish the existing building and utilise it to increase the height of the plot,” he said.
Often, building contractors have a tie-up with cement and sand suppliers for disposal of debris. But when there is no demand they look for the closest open space. K. Singaram, a contractor, said since construction debris was not required throughout the year, he had no option but to dump it somewhere. “I try and dump it along a canal or river as open spaces are very far away. I cannot afford high transport costs just for waste,” he said.
Sources in Chennai Corporation said the civic body was in the process of developing a policy for disposal of construction and demolition waste. The civic body presently disposes construction waste in its dumping yards. “It is the responsibility of individual departments to dispose off the waste they generate,” a source said.