Massive stormwater drain work nears completion in George Town

Work in progress at Nyniappa Naicken Street. Photo : R. Ravindran  

The narrow streets in George Town form a matrix; and beyond their physical structure, they meet at a conceptual level. They make Georgetown a nerve centre for business, with each street supporting a particular trade. A bewildering range of chemical products including hand sanitisers are available on Nyniappa Street. On Rasappa Chetty Street, ayurveda and siddha medicinal items are sold. Devaraja Mudali street is known for shops that sell locks and electrical products. Peddu Street is known for brass wares. These are just a few examples.

During the lockdown, these narrow streets in George Town were united by one more factor. For the first time since Independence, the streets were opened up to widen the existing British-era stormwater drain network. Greater Chennai Corporation undertook this work as part of its Integrated Storm Water Drain (ISWD) project. The project was initiated by the civic body following the 2015 floods when many neighbourhoods were inundated.

“Widening the stormwater drains in the locality is a matter of great relief as a majority of streets get waterlogged during monsoon affecting our business and also posing a health hazard,” says Mohammad Hussian, a trader from George Town.

At present, the existing three feet-wide stormwater drains are being made four feet wide and six feet deep to enable them to discharge the excess rainwater that collect in certain sections, including Nyniappa Street and Devaraja Mudali Street.

The stormwater drain work, under way for more than two months is marked by the creation of rainwater harvesting pits every 30 metres. The rest of the excess rainwater will be discharged into the widened drain through filter inlets. Illegal discharge of sewage water into the existing stormwater drains is said to have been checked by the civic body. Wide concrete manholes on the widened drain are also being built for easy unclogging of the drain. The entire work is expected to get completed by next month.

Corporation officials point out that the re-opening of the shops on these streets based on odd and even door numbers on alternative days — a system prevalent in New Delhi for use of vehicles — has helped expedite the drain work as it has checked crowding. Besides, constant monitoring by the local police to prevent crowding in any of these streets had ensured the safety of the workers engaged in the drain work.

From September, since the easing of lockdown restrictions, many small-time traders and buyers shop on the key streets in GeorgeTown such as Govindappa Naicken street, Angappa Naicken street, Narayana Mudali street, Kasi Chetty street, Rasappa Chetty street, Varada Muthiappan street, Thatha Muthiappan street, Linghi Chetty street, Thambu Chetty street, Armenian Street and Evening Bazaar Road.

However, shop owners have been strictly told by the civic body and the local police to ensure social distancing among themselves and buyers and that failure to do so would invite a penalty and even the risk of the shop being sealed by the authorities.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 8:09:46 AM |

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