Flood risk persists in many areas

May 18, 2018 12:57 am | Updated 04:13 pm IST - CHENNAI

At least 50 civic issues caused by faulty infrastructure and delayed civic projects continue to be major factors behind keeping the city at flood risk, three years after flood monitoring officers spotted them and recorded them, following the 2015 floods.

Inadequate stormwater drains, retaining walls along rivers, and lack of shutters with facilities to regulate water flow at 19 locations are issues that have the potential to cause flooding in many neighbourhoods such as Madhavaram, Ekattuthangal, Ambattur, Nerkundram, Madipakkam and Perungudi. These would be the responsibility of the Water Resources Department. The delay in the commissioning of drains across highways, within the purview of the Highways Department, has increased flood risks in five locations.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has delayed the commissioning of stormwater drains in Madhavaram junction and Manali Express Road. Railways are yet to develop stormwater drains at two locations in the city and Metrowater has not commissioned facilities in five areas, increasing flood risk, officials listed.

Shutters and pumps

The initiative begun immediately after the big floods in Chennai by the Chennai Corporation to develop civic infrastructure, such as shutters along canals and pumps to bail out water, has not taken off in most of the localities. The agency implemented the concept of developing shutters in canals along the 100 Feet Road and managed to reduce flooding a few years ago. But at least 50 areas are yet to get such facilities. For instance, a proposal to develop shutters for the anti-malaria drain near GMR Power House and pumps of 100 hp to pump water to Otteri Nullah to reduce flooding in Choolai, Thana Street in Purasawalkam, Kosapet and Pulianthope, has remained a non-starter.

Residents in areas such as Pulianthope said two feet water remained stagnant for at least five days after the rains.

Disaster Management Expert N. Mathavan said coordination among line agencies has always been a challenge, but was felt intensely after the 2015 floods.“This is the first time the civic body is conducting monsoon preparedness meetings several months ahead of the onset of the northeast monsoon,” said an official, indicating the meeting that has been held with other line agencies such as the State Highways Department, TNEB, Public Works Department, Railways, NHAI and Metrowater.

Owing to a fund crunch dogging its civic infrastructure projects, the Chennai Corporation has been in a scramble to identify funding sources to complete missing links of stormwater drains in various parts of the city.

The flood monitoring officers have proposed the development of civic infrastructure estimated at ₹204 crore for flood risk reduction across the city. Similarly, Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services has proposed the development of missing links at 150 locations. “We are awaiting the funds,” said an official.

On its part, the Chennai Corporation has planned to use capital funds to reduce flooding in a few localities such as Kannan Street, near Vaidyanadhan Bridge in Royapuram, Barakka road in Thiru Vi. Ka Nagar and Egangipuram drain in Ambattur, near Konnur High Road.

“Finding funding for building stormwater drains and canals leading to the Kosasthalaiyar basin and Kovalam basin estimated at a total of ₹2,900 crore remains a challenge. The development of drains from ECR to beach will begin shortly. There is indication that funding will be through for that,” said an official.

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