Tamil Nadu

Highways dept. takes up road repair on war footing

Fire personnel rescue people at Mahalakshmi Nagar near Chengalpattu on Saturday  

With over 3,000 km of roads damaged in the State in the recent torrential downpour, the Highways Department has been on its toes for the past few days. While patch work is going on in full swing with the broken bricks and wet mix macadam kept ready much ahead of the monsoon, district-level officials have taken up the task of assessing damages.

“Many stretches are still under water and we are getting new breaches. We will have to wait till the end of the month for a clear picture to be formed. We have formed teams in all divisions and control rooms have been set up at divisional engineers, superintending engineers and the chief engineer’s offices,” explained a senior official of the department. All the districts have been utilising whatever funds they had to restore traffic and have sought funds for temporary restoration. “All landslides in hilly areas have been cleared and traffic restored. There has not been much damage to bridges since every August we observe bridges' month and we strengthened weak structures,” he added.

In Kancheepuram district, which recorded 35 cm of rain on one day at least three culverts and a bed-level causeway at Guruvanmedu were damaged. Surplus water from Thenneri breached the Palur- Singaperumal Koil Road.

A traffic planner said, like the State government and Railways Department have a fixed plan for replacing level crossings, they must also replace bed-level causeways in a timed manner. “Just because only a few people use it, it does not mean that the government should not spend on constructing bridges at these points,” he said.

Meanwhile, some farmers of Ponn Vilaindha Kalathur in Chengalpet complained that fishing in tanks led to the incoming channels being illegally blocked by those involved in the activity. “Despite heavy rain, lakes at Ottivakkam and Ozhanur did not get enough water,” said a farmer.

Going further down south, roads in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin that were already in a poor condition were battered in the rain. Residents of Tuticorin are worried about the road to Tiruchendur since at least 20 km of the road is damaged and a large number of devotees are scheduled to visit the temple for the Skanda Sasti festival in a couple of days. “We need that road to be repaired on a war footing,” said Rajamani, a resident. Similarly, the riding surface of the Tuticorin- Ettayapuram and Kayathar- Kazhugamalai roads have been damaged in such a manner that vehicles can only amble along.

Riddled with potholes

According to P. Perumbadaiyar, State vice-president of the CPI-affiliated Tamil Nadu Vivasaayigal Sangam, all roads in Tirunelveli, except the national highway, are in bad shape. “Many roads have thousands of potholes owing to the lack of maintenance. The Palayamkottai - Papanasam, Thirukkurunkudi - Cheranmahadevi, Tirunelveli - Tenkasi and Tirunelveli - Sankarankovil stretches are in dire need of rectification,” Mr. Perumbadaiyar said.

M. Ravi, a tourist van driver from Palayamkottai, adds the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur Road also to this list. “I'm not prepared to list out the reasons behind the poor quality of the roads as it is an open secret... but the Department of Highways should have at least filled-up the large potholes before the start of the monsoon so that it would have ensured safety of road-users. Our vehicles are getting badly damaged owing to this,” Mr. Ravi said.

A former Highways engineer said the department must mark these points as vulnerable and ensure that culverts or minor bridges are constructed before the next monsoon. (With inputs from P. Sudhakar and Praveen Paul Joseph)

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 9:25:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-rains-highways-dept-takes-up-road-repair-on-war-footing/article7879338.ece

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