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

Living on the edge

Residents of Marudhu Pandiyar Street in Chitlapakkam

Residents of Marudhu Pandiyar Street in Chitlapakkam  

The slow progress of the work on the cut-and-cover project in Chitlapakkam puts residents to great inconvenience

The residents of Marudhu Pandiyar Street in Chitlapakkam are living on the edge, literally, thanks to the tardy pace of the cut-and-cover project being executed by the Public Works Department.

The street itself is now one big trench, with little space on the sides for residents to walk in and out safely.

“The digging works have been going on since October last year after the State government sanctioned ₹12 crore for the cut-and-cover project. We have been suffering for months because the work is slower than a snail moving,” said a resident.

The Hindu Downtown in its report published on February 8 had highlighted the problems the residents are facing due to the project. However, the project has made negligible progress then.

The PWD has only started laying plain cement concrete (PCC) and is also putting up metal railings on the sides as support. Street lights are still not burning and the residents’ pleas to the Chitlapakkam Panchayat to repair them have fallen on deaf ears. “We are clinging on to our lives here. The pits are more than 12 feet deep and the space on the sides is barely enough for one person to pass through. With the street lights out for so long, it has become too risky to walk on the sides. One wrong step could land us in the pit. But how else do we get home,” asks the resident.

For senior citizens in the street, the past four months have been a nightmare. Parents are keeping their children indoors too, fearing untoward incidents.

“We spotted a boy riding a bicycle on the concrete cover of the half-finished drain on Pamban Swamigal Salai. That is the panchayat’s project which is not making any progress. Iron rods are jutting out of the drain and there is no protective railings around the drain. These projects have put the residents’ safety at risk,” says Sunil Jayaram of Chitlapakkam Drinking water supply has been cut off due to the digging and construction work, and a couple of residents have locked their houses and moved to their relatives’ houses nearby. “When we complained to the PWD, an official told us that they would supply water through private tankers. But how will they drag the pipes to each and every house since there is no space in front of any of them?

As such, the groundwater level is depleting in Chitlapakkam and the concrete drain will cover all soil and will not allow for any groundwater recharge,” says another resident.

A PWD official said that the project hit a roadblock after high tension electricity cables were found in the ground. Since the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has not shifted them, the Department has been asked to shorten the width of the drain and speed up construction. The official said that the drain project would be finished in a month.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 7:21:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/living-on-the-edge/article26397177.ece

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