A look at the cut-and-cover drain projects at Chitlapakkam in Chennai

‘Keep the roots away from the lines,’ say Chitlapakkam residents

On loose soil.

On loose soil.  

Trenches for cut-and-cover drains have been dug close to trees in Chitlapakkam; residents fear loosening of soil might uproot these trees

For the residents of Chitlapakkam, it is one problem after the other since the cut-and-cover drain project began. Although the work started more than a month ago, it is nowhere near completion. In several places, the mud canals have been left open.

The safety risk and inconvenience apart, the residents of Thirumagal Nagar Second Street are worried that the delay in completing the project will damage the trees in the area.

The mud canal in this street has been dug so close to the trees that the roots of a few trees have been exposed.

“When such development works are undertaken, the engineers appointed by the civic body are supposed to conduct an impact study to ensure that there is no possibility of damage to natural resources and utility services. However, no such efforts have been taken despite our pleas,” said a resident of Chitlapakkam, on condition of anonymity.

The residents apparently had notified the panchayat officials about the danger caused to the trees by the digging work, but there was no response. Pictures of the trees after the trench was dug were sent, through Whatsapp, to senior officials but none of them assured us of any action, the resident said.

“The authorities are going ahead with the project without any understanding of the risks. There are only five to six trees left on this street. If the authorities leave the trenches open for long, there are chances of the trees collapsing because the soil around them are starting to loosen up,” he added.

Following complaints and media reports about the open drains and the safety threats, the officials have covered up the trenches with metal sheets and screen cloth.

However, mud in the canals have caved in at a few spots in the recent rain. “Just covering up the canals and tying safety tapes won’t help. The more mud caves in the more damage it will cause to the road,” said a resident.

‘Desilt lakes first’

While the residents have repeatedly questioned the timing of the work and implementing the project without inviting a tender, they also complained that desilting of the three lakes in the neighbourhood — Chitlapakkam, Sembakkam and Selaiyur — has not been carried out. Without desilting the downstream areas that lead to the lakes, the cut-and-cover drains won’t serve any purpose, he added.

Awareness programme

Members of Chitlapakkam Rising, an online group of activists are planning to conduct an awareness programme this Sunday at 4 p.m. at Varadaraja Theatre junction. The event seeks to highlight civic issues plaguing the locality through cultural programmes.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 5:48:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/keep-the-roots-away-from-the-lines-say-chitlapakkam-residents/article25632294.ece

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