The Election Commission's announcement on Monday relaxing certain provisions of the Model Code of Conduct has brought cheers to the residents keen on early completion of the projects to improve micro and macro drainage network.
According to the Commission's communication to the Chief Electoral Officer here, projects for which work orders have been issued can now be started and tenders can be floated for approved works.
In a bid to prevent flooding, the drainage network project was launched over a year ago under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). While the Water Resources Department had chalked out works worth Rs.633.03 crore, the Chennai Corporation's share of works is worth nearly Rs.814 crore.
Residents of various areas complained that the work of constructing stormwater drain and carrying out improvements to the canals is progressing at a slow pace. Officials of both the WRD and the civic body, however, are confident that some of the areas prone to flooding will get a relief this northeast monsoon as the work will be completed by then.
Residents of Velachery said it has been a year since the work of constructing stormwater drain was started, at a cost of Rs.43 crore. Many areas along the Taramani Link Road, including Baby Nagar, VGP Selva Nagar and Seshadri Nagar, are likely to benefit from the project.
The Corporation must take measures to complete at least 50 per cent of the work before the northeast monsoon, the residents said.
Similarly, residents of West Velachery want the civic body to speed up the construction of stormwater drain and link them to the Veerangal Odai.
S. Kesavan, a resident of Mahalingapuram, said the work in his area was started last October, but suspended after a couple of months. Many interior roads, including Mahalingam Street and Lady Madhavan Street, have been dug up. There is hardly space for vehicle movement. “The contractor has left the construction material along the road. We find it difficult to move around,” he said.
Residents of Chari Street, T.Nagar, complained that they are unable to use the road as work is progressing slowly. Access from the North Usman Road has been cut off for four-wheelers. The scene is no different on Dhandapani Street, which has more commercial establishments.
According to residents, the contractors were citing manpower shortage and escalating cost of construction material as reasons for slow pace of the work.
Reasons for delay
Officials of the WRD said factors such as shifting of utility lines, land acquisition and co-ordination with other departments for major projects such as Chennai Metro Rail caused the delay. As per the original schedule, the work should have started in 2009 and nearly 70 per cent must have been completed by 2010-11. However, the work started only last year.
As of now, nearly 50 per cent of the work to improve Veerangal Odai and South Buckingam canal between Adyar and Okkiam Thoraipakkam has been finished. The department expects to complete the package on Veerangal Odai and creating a diversion channel for surplus course of Kolathur tank to the waterbody in Madhavaram before the onset of the northeast monsoon.
“We want to finish about 50 per cent of the works to improve Otteri Nullah and Virugambakkam-Arumbakkam canal before the rainy season,” said an official.
The Chennai Corporation, which had suspended the works for over two weeks owing to the Assembly elections, has resumed work. Officials of the civic body said they faced many hurdles while implementing the project. “We have to construct drains without disturbing the drinking water and sewer lines. Contractors also found it hard as the cost of construction materials increased. Rainfall last year also delayed the project,” an official said.
As an effort to expedite the project fortnightly review of the work was being undertaken. Of the 533-km-long SWD network planned, nearly 40 km has been completed and work is on in 100-km stretch. “We want to finish the project in 100-km stretch by May-end. Areas such as Kolathur and Velachery would have a marked improvement by this year,” the official said.
Besides concrete lining on canal bed, the civic body plans to cover the canals with wire mesh to prevent garbage dumping. The progress of work was slow as meticulous planning is being done to ensure proper gradient and make the project successful, the official added.