No chance of 2015 repeat this monsoon, Greater Chennai Corporation assures Madras HC

Civic body says it has completed 80% of stormwater drain construction work.

Updated - October 19, 2019 03:40 am IST

Published - October 19, 2019 01:23 am IST - CHENNAI

The Division Bench directed the civic body to file a detailed status report on the construction of stormwater drains.

The Division Bench directed the civic body to file a detailed status report on the construction of stormwater drains.

The Greater Chennai Corporation on Friday assured the Madras High Court that 80% of stormwater drain construction work in the city was complete, and hence there was no chance of flooding, like in 2015, during the northeast monsoon, that set in over the State on Wednesday.

A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and N. Seshasayee recorded the submission made by Corporation counsel K. Soundararajan and directed the civic body to file a detailed status report by November 18, not just on the construction of stormwater drains, but also on repair work undertaken on battered roads.

The judges took up the issue during the hearing of two PIL petitions filed J. Mohanraj, a retired Inspector of Police, who insisted upon taking criminal action against private telecommunication companies that dig up roads but do not close them properly, leading to road accidents and deaths.

During the hearing, Special Government Pleader E. Manoharan brought it to the notice of the court that another Division Bench, led by Justice S. Manikumar (now Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court), had already taken cognisance of poor road conditions in the city in another PIL petition, which had complained of roads being relaid without milling.

He pointed out that the earlier Bench had appointed A. Yogeshwaran as an Advocate Commissioner to inspect the conditions of road and file a report. Similarly, in another case, the judges had appointed Balan Haridoss as an Advocate Commissioner to inspect the quality of stormwater drain construction and file a report in court.

After taking note of those two cases, the judges decided to club them together and asked Mr. Mohanraj to intervene in those cases, instead of having filed separate petitions that end up adding weight to the case bundles, and also dragging the proceedings for long, in view of notices to be issued afresh to respondents in every new case.

They also expressed their displeasure over the bad condition of a majority of roads in the city. “All roads are in shambles and we know that you are not going to repair them until the end of monsoon. At this rate, it will take 1,000 years for us to match the standards of present-day Singapore, and by then, Singapore would have advanced by 10,000 years,” the senior judge said.

He also wondered why manholes in the city were constructed right in the middle of the roads, when Bangalore has had manholes only on roadsides, even 20 years ago. The judges also stated that roads get battered fast due to the poor quality of laying, and very rarely do the officials take any action against the contractors.

‘No accountability’

“There is no responsibility or accountability. If only the officials are sensitive enough to such issues, the court would not have to take up issues such as laying of roads and constructing stormwater drains,” Justice Sathyanarayanan said.

“Someone dies because of illegal flex boards and someone dies because of potholes on roads, but officials do not seem to be bothered. There is no sensitivity to such issues,” Justice Seshasayee lamented.

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