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

Cut but no cover yet

Trenches dug by PWD left open for three months as the cut-and-cover project waits for TNEB to shift high tension electricity cables

For Babu Krishnamoorthy, every trip in and out of his street has been a nightmarish experience for the past three months. The trenches dug for the cut-and-cover drains by the Public Works Department in Marudhu Pandiyar Street have been left open and the project doesn’t seem to be making any progress.

The ₹12 crore cut-and-cover drain project was sanctioned by the State government in September as part of flood mitigation measures.

The 300-metre-trench dug in the middle of road has left only a little space on the sides and does not have any safety barricades or railings.

“The digging works started in October last year and was supposed to be completed before the northeast monsoon, but nothing has moved forward after the trench was dug. We are afraid to step out in the dark or send our children out as the open trench is a big safety risk. Street lights have not been functioning after the digging started,” he says. Besides safety being compromised, access to the street has also been hindered due to the delay in the project. The residents are unable to park their vehicles or use them on the street. “We have been parking our vehicles at our neighbours’ homes and other available spaces. We can’t use borrowed space for too long,” Krishnamoorthy says.

The residents also fear that if the drain work is not complete before summer, they could face problems in getting drinking water supply to the street. “The northeast monsoon failed last year and as a result, groundwater is fast depleting in many areas of Chitlapakkam. We may have to depend on private water suppliers during summer but if the drains are left open, no tanker lorry can enter the street. This street is one of the key links to the main road,” he adds. When contacted, PWD’s Assistant Executive Engineer Radhakrishnan said that the construction works have been halted after high tension electricity cables were found in the ground. He said the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has been asked to shift the cables to an alternative location following which a new tender will be awarded and the work will resume.

Trash fumes

Meanwhile, another section of residents have voiced their concern over the panchayat burning garbage inside the crematorium adjoining the Chitlapakkam lake.

“A few residents are using the crematorium as a dumping ground. The crematorium does not have a gate and stray cows feed on the garbage most of the time. There is a school near the crematorium and the smoke affects the students. Residents nearby are also affected. We have asked the panchayat officials several times to take strict action against those dumping garbage but instead, they continue to burn them,” says Sunil Jayaraman, a resident.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 1:21:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/cut-but-no-cover-yet/article26204797.ece

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