Why are many Chennai roads being dug up?

The story so far: In a bid to improve flood preparedness, the Greater Chennai Corporation has dug up 559 roads in many of the 15 zones to develop storm water drains ahead of the onset of the northeast monsoon this year. Roads have been dug up in areas such as Teynampet, Alwarpet, T. Nagar, Kolathur, Kodambakkam, Velachery, Adyar and Pulianthope. Roads in other parts of the city will be dug up for construction of the storm water drains. A total of 93 roads have been dug up under the Singara Chennai 2.0 scheme of the State government, 165 roads have been dug up for laying storm water drains under the flood relief fund, 20 under the infrastructure and amenities fund, 111 under World Bank funds, six under German development bank KfW funds and 162 under Asian Development Bank funds. Following the floods in the previous years, huge sums have been mobilised for flood mitigation. Over 1,033 km of storm water drains have been proposed to be constructed at a cost of ₹4,070 crore in three years.  

What are the issues that have cropped up in neighbourhoods as a result?

Water and power supplies and telecom services have been disrupted in some of the areas after the earthmovers damaged the cables and the pipelines. The digging has reportedly weakened the roots of trees on several stretches. The Chennai Corporation has changed the alignment of drains to save trees in many roads. Some residential areas, like Kamdar Nagar in the Teynampet zone, have reported encroachments on old drains. Construction of new drains in a new alignment is also a challenge and the road width is likely to be reduced. Removal of the encroachments on the old drains is also a challenge as encroachers have been protesting.  

What are the special instructions for conducting this drive?

In a circular, Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi has ordered the zonal officers to inform TANGEDCO, CMWSSB and BSNL and optical fiber cable operators of their plans in advance. They should ensure the presence of the representatives of the service departments at the site. The contact details of the contractors and the officers should be communicated to the service departments. The officials have been asked to check levels before construction of the drains in each road to prevent water stagnation. The Assistant Engineers, the Assistant Executive Engineers and the Executive Engineers will be held responsible for any flooding after the construction of the new drains. Residents have been requested to dial the Corporation helpline number 1913 to complain about civic issues in the dug-up roads.

Why are some residents sore?

Residents in several neighbourhoods have demanded the construction of storm water drains ahead of the northeast monsoon this year to prevent flooding. But they have demanded that the line agencies coordinate with each other to ensure that the utilities are not damaged. Some residents have reportedly spent money on repairs to the damaged cables and pipelines supplying to their homes. The residents have also demanded that the work be implemented without damaging trees. The digging across the city has also reduced the carriageway of the roads. With the school year beginning, many have reported inconvenience.

Is the flood mitigation project a recent one?

The integrated storm water drain project was initiated during the DMK government of 2006-11 with funding under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission in the core city areas such as Egmore, Chintadripet, Mylapore, Alwarpet, T. Nagar, Adyar and Kodambakkam. During the AIADMK government of 2011-21, many of the drains were constructed with funding from the World Bank in the Cooum and Adyar basins in the old city areas and added areas which were merged in 2011. Later, funds were obtained from KfW and Asian Development Bank for the Kosasthalaiyar basin in north Chennai and the Kovalam basin in south Chennai. 

Where is the project headed towards?

The flood mitigation project has been given top priority by the State government. Chief Minister M.K. Stalin appointed a committee, led by retired IAS officer V. Thiruppugazh, for flood mitigation. Mr. Stalin, Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu and Shiv Das Meena, Secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply, have been visiting flooded areas such as Kolathur, Ashok Nagar, Kodambakkam, Pulianthope and T. Nagar to inspect the flood mitigation projects. Mr. Bedi has been reviewing the project every two days to ensure its successful completion. Even as all the flood mitigation projects in all the four river basins — Cooum, Adyar, Kovalam and Kosasthalaiyar — are expected to be completed in three years, the Chennai Corporation has stepped up initiatives to complete major drains that serve as points of drainage into larger waterways ahead of the northeast monsoon this year. Under Singara Chennai 2.0, 60.79 km of storm water drains are being developed in the flooded parts of the city. The Kosasthalaiyar basin areas, such as Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram and parts of Ambattur, will get 769 km of drains. The Kovalam basin will get 39 km of drains. The World Bank has funded the development of missing links of drains at 144 locations. The State government has also released a special grant of ₹291.36 crore for flood mitigation covering 107 km of storm water drains.

Our code of editorial values

  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

Printable version | Jun 12, 2022 12:54:08 am |