Several projects to improve the city’s major waterways will get a new lease of life from the New Year.

Decks have been cleared for many long-pending projects that were either stalled or progressing at a snail’s pace. The Water Resources Department (WRD) recently obtained technical clearance for the revised detailed project report from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

The WRD and the Chennai Corporation are jointly executing the schemes to improve micro and macro drains in the city and alleviate inundation and reduce mosquito menace. However, the department and the civic body were able to complete only 45 per cent of the projects in the last two years.

Officials of the WRD said that there was a delay in the projects due to various obstacles, including delay in shifting of utilities and removal of encroachments. This had further led to cost escalation.

“We had to change the design of the foundation for flood protection walls because of the poor soil-bearing capacity. An intensive soil investigation had to be carried out. We also changed construction method from on site to pre-cast structure wherever possible to avoid traffic congestion,” said an official.

The project cost has been revised from the original amount of Rs. 1,447.91 crore to Rs. 1,524.60 crore. Of this, the WRD has been sanctioned Rs. 819.80 crore to implement the projects. “We have to remit Rs. 4-5 crore towards shifting utilities for widening and deepening the canals,” said an official.

A new project to improve surplus course, linking the water bodies in Korattur and Madhavaram, has been added. Three of the ten packages, which were not implemented due to problems in land acquisition and delay in removal of encroachments, are expected to be started early next year. The work to construct a flood protection wall along the banks of Central Buckingham Canal remained a non-starter owing to a delay in removal of over 5,000 encroached structures.

Similarly, alignment for projects to construct box culvert has also been changed to avoid delay in acquiring work space on roads with heavy traffic. The proposal to construct a diversion channel from Buckingham canal to Okkiyam Madu, which had been put on hold following problems in land acquisition, has been revised with a provision for the State government to bear the land-acquisition cost.

The department is now awaiting administrative clearance from the Centre and the approval of the State steering committee to go ahead with the projects. Officials said that the projects would be expedited from January and were scheduled to be completed in a year. Better co-ordination with other government departments would prove significant for the scheduled completion of the schemes, they added.

“We are waiting for other agencies to sanction permission to shift utilities. We hope to expedite the process with the additional fund allotted for the purpose,” the official said.

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