Development work is welcome. But at what cost? Without any prior intimation, a deep trench was dug up in front of the gates of some residents living in Tambaiah Reddy Extension in West Mambalam to relay the storm water drain.
Imagine being trapped in your house with the water line cut and the phone line down for two days. The only saving grace – continuous electricity supply and the mobile phone.
This is the ordeal that some residents living in Tambaiah Reddy Extension in West Mambalam had to go through when one fine day, without any prior intimation, a deep trench was dug up in front of their gates to relay the storm water drain.
“Everything was normal in the morning when I went to office. On returning I found that I couldn’t even enter my house. Thankfully, our house and that of our neighbour’s is separated only by a barbed wire. We requested them to allow us to use their gate to enter our house. They were kind enough to oblige,” said Harihara Krishnan.
His wife, Radha, saw the entire process unfold in front of her eyes. “Some people came on the June 16 and started digging up in front of our gate. They said that they were the employees of a private firm with which the Chennai Corporation had signed a contract to undertake relaying of storm water drain in the city.”
Three lines were running parallel underground – the Metro Water line, telephone line and the drainage line.
Heavy machine used
Instead of identifying the storm water drain line and manually breaking it, the workers used the JPC machine. While doing so, the person operating the machine not only pulled out the existing drain but also the water and sewage pipe lines. The telephone cable was also pulled out in the process.
“We are not against development work, but it could have been done in a coordinated manner. The firm said that they had sent a notice to the Corporation stating that they will begin work in our area about three months back. In such a scenario, the Corporation should have sent at least one supervisor to overlook the work and help the workers identify the storm water drain pipe,” said V.T. Raghavan, another resident.
The residents had to wait for two days to get a temporary arrangement made and their water and sewage lines restored.
“BSNL was prompt in sending its personnel to repair the damaged phone line and we are thankful to them. When we asked the workers, who had broken the water line and sewage line to restore them, they demanded money for buying the material. We had no choice but to shell out money from our purse. We also paid for the wooden passage to facilitate movement. We were also lucky that the sewage water did not contaminate the main water line.” said Mr. Raghavan.
With senior citizens living in the house, the residents are thankful that no medical emergency occurred during those two days.
But they fear that with rain expected any day, the dug up earth will become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and increase their risk of contracting dengue and malaria.
Repeated complaints to the Corporation office and Metro Water department have fallen on deaf ears.
With each pointing its fingers at the other, the residents are not sure with whom the responsibility lies. “Whenever such work is undertaken, the residents should be informed about whom to approach in case of grievances,” said Ms. Radha.
Asking for reimbursement of the money spent by the residents for the fault of the contractor, the residents want a coordinated effort from Metro Water, the Corporation and the contractor while undertaking development work in the city. They also want their water and sewage lines to be restored permanently.