It will provide relief from flooding to residents in areas such as Chinmaya Nagar and Virugambakkam

After four years of project formulation, the long-pending work to construct a diversion channel from Virugambakkam-Arumbakkam canal to Cooum will begin soon.

Residents of surrounding areas, including Chinmaya Nagar and Virugambakkam, who live in constant fear of flooding after every spell of rain may have a respite once the project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is completed.

Whenever surplus water is released from the water bodies in Porur and Chembarambakkam, the canal, which has a limited carrying capacity, overflows.

S. Rekha, a resident of Chinmaya Nagar, said: “Twice in the last eight years, I lost many valuable items during floods. Whenever the canal flows to its brim during the monsoon, many residents like me panic.”

The Water Resources Department (WRD), which recently got its revised JNNURM detailed project report approved by the Centre, is expected to start work in a couple of weeks.

In a bid to alleviate inundation, the WRD plans to construct a 2,200-metre long canal to divert the excess flow of 600 cubic feet per second from the Virugambakkam-Arumbakkam canal.

The diversion channel will travel via Kaliamman Koil Street, Koyambedu and Jawaharlal Nehru Salai and cross Poonamallee High Road to be linked with the Cooum.

“We had to wait for permission from various departments. Earlier, the canal was planned as an onsite construction that delayed the project implementation. Now, we have changed it to a pre-cast structure to prevent traffic hassles at the already congested Koyambedu junction,” said an official.

The design of the channel, which would be four-metre wide and two-metre high, has been modified taking into consideration the proposed flyover on Jawaharlal Nehru Salai junction. Work is set to be completed in seven to nine months.

The WRD was able to complete only 22 per cent of the work to improve the Virugambakkam-Arumbakkam canal owing to a delay in removal of encroachments. Work on a flood protection wall which was planned to be built along 9,250 metre of the canal has completed only up to a distance of 2,610 metre. The department is now expediting work on a 3,710-metre long portion of the canal running along areas such as Thirukumarapuram, Periyar Padhai, MMDA Colony and Subbarao Nagar. “We plan to construct the retaining wall by April,” the official added.

Deepening and desilting of the canal has not been taken up yet as nearly 900 encroaching structures need to be cleared. Biometric survey for enumerating those who have settled along the canal banks is under progress. Work on the remaining 2,940 metre of the canal has been held up for several years due to the delay in removal of encroachments.

However, the department is hoping to complete the entire project before October this year.

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