Nagore Chamber of Commerce threatens blockade demanding relaying of road

Nagapattinam has been covered with a blanket of dust for over two years now, thanks to the underground drainage project. Deep trenches, dugout roads, and mounds of mud mark the much touted yet incomplete project.

With the project overshooting its schedule, it is becoming the bane of the town. The project, executed by Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD) on behalf of Nagapattinam Municipality, entails laying 90.30-km sewer lines and setting up of sewage treatment plants (STP) in Nagapattinam and Nagore. While the board has completed 82 per cent of the project under the collection system, works on 9.5 km of sewer lines are pending. The pending works include the 5-km stretch of the national highway from Nagapattinam to Nagore and on STPs.

The Nagore Chamber of Commerce had threatened a road blockade, if relaying work is not taken up on the 2-km Nagore NH45A on which sewer lines have been laid. The stretch is part of the main 7.2-km-long NH sewer lines to which the trunk lines would eventually be linked. As per the terms of reference, the road would be taken up for laying once the entire underground drain work on NH is completed.

According to sources, a team of officials from the Highways Department and TWAD Board would visit Delhi to meet officials of the Ministry of Surface Transport to clear funds for the road construction.

TWAD has remitted Rs. 3.9 crore as its share of the project cost. With the chamber of commerce demanding immediate relaying of road, the authorities feel that such piecemeal approach may delay the work on the remaining 5-km stretch that is crucial for linking all the trunk sewer lines to the NH.

The TWAD is facing an engineering battle with the saline topography and high water table in the coastal belt. Pumping out water that gushes in from depths as shallow as three metres poses a challenge in digging deep trenches for the project. As the soil is clayey, workers inside the trenches too need to adopt suitable safety techniques as there is always a danger of the soil caving in on the workers. As for the other link roads, officials say it would not be feasible for the municipality to take up road laying immediately after TWAD hands over a stretch on a piecemeal manner. There is the question of funds and tendering and accompanying procedures, says a source. What the authorities see as procedural encumbrances, public view them as bureaucratic red tape. TWAD had planned to expedite works in the summer to make the most of the holiday of educational institutions and drought-induced fall in the water table. However, the works in the town dotted with several temples were stalled during summer because of festivities. Works on the Nagore side were held up because of Kandhuri festival.

A large quantum of STP work also falls under Coastal Regulatory Zone. Clearance delays from the Ministry of Environment and Forests has hamstrung the work, says the source.