VS Sukumar is standing a hair’s breadth away from his gates, his eyes fixing an emerging stormwater drain with a pointed stare. The PVC sewage drain pipe needling through the skeletal frame of the stormwater drain “weeps” around a joint. The discharge is slow and mild, but the size of the leakage is not the focal point. It never should be. A sewage pipe has to keep its contents and sorrow to itself, and not pass them on to a stormwater drain, even in trickles.
Sukumar thinks the pipe developed the leak as Greater Chennai Corporation’s stormwater drain work hustled through B Ramachandra Adithanar Road — earlier Fourth Main Road — in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar. Sukumar himself reports the workers’ view in the matter: “The leak predated the SWD work”. The discussion is amiable. The leak should get fixed, soon. In relative terms, Sukumar finds himself in circumstances notches better than those prevailing in many other neighbourhoods, where sewage connections have gotten entirely severed in the course of SWD work.
Sukumar’s eight-unit apartment occupies a corner plot this road shares with Gandhi Nagar Canal Bank Road. Both the drinking water and sewage connections to the address next to Sukumar’s are also intact.
Sukumar reveals a good part of the previous day was consumed by an SWD-work “monitoring” exercise. He continues the vigil, parking himself on a handy, light plastic monoblock chair he has carried to the gates.
It illustrates why residents need to be gimlet-eyed. Meera Ravikumar, also a resident of B Ramachandra Adithanar Road, is undertaking a count of trees lost in the SWD work in Gandhi Nagar.
Meera notes that at the threshold of the SWD work, in a meeting with GCC officials, residents’ fear about loss of trees were allayed. She reveals a two-sided promise was made: The goal is no loss of trees, but if a tree has to be felled, by some unfortunate chance, even transplantation would be carried out.
Meera notes there are no signs of any transplantation efforts. There are many instances of one side of the root system of a tree being lopped off.
And there are also instances of entire trees being axed to the ground.
Trees left weak in their footings due to the partial loss of root systems are denied the necessary attention. “There are no horticulatural experts on the ground to advise the right course of action,” she says.
Gandhi Nagar is known for its green canopy, and Meera points out that a list of lost and partially damaged trees would be made so that GCC could he held to its promise about green restoration.
A resident of First Crescent Park Street in Gandhi Nagar says, “On First Crescent Park street, huge mountains of mud were piled up for days — brought from digging all over Gandhi Nagar.”
He adds that following a series of complaints, the final one rising to the top echelons of Greater Chennai Corporation, the mounds were cleared.
That is not the end of the story, unfortunately.
The resident continues, “A fresh mound of mud has been dumped. A lot of debris and huge slabs are still lying around and we hope they are removed soon.
“First Crescent Park Street, like other roads, has also suffered damage and since it is a high-use road during school times, we hope it will be repaired before the rains.”
A resident’s list on lost trees
Meera Ravikumar, a resident of B Ramachandra Adithanar Road — earlier “Fourth Main Road” — in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar has prepared a list of trees lost in the locality as a result of the stormwater drain work. Here is the list, just the way she penned it.
“Tree loss in Gandhinagar that came to my notice. On Fourth Main Road, we have lost two copper pod trees, near the ICICI bank ATM. At the same spot another tree is in a critical stage. On First Crescent Park Road, two avenue trees and one palm tree in front of Gandhinagar Club were lost. On Third Cross Street, one giant rain tree. Two trees look shaky. On Second Canal Cross Street, one neem tree. On Second Main Road, one avenue tree at the corner near Vanga Vanga supermarket. On Crescent Avenue Road, outside Jains Annabelle apartment, one tree was cut and two others are looking shaky, and they might fall anytime.” Meera adds, “Roots of giant peepal trees and neem trees and many small and big avenue trees have been cut to facilitate the stormwater drain work. We must wait and how this is going to affect the longevity of these trees.”