Tamil Nadu

Vertical gardens under Chennai’s flyovers left high and dry

The vertical garden under the flyover in Royapettah presents a picture of neglect.

The vertical garden under the flyover in Royapettah presents a picture of neglect. | Photo Credit: K.V. Srnivasan

In 2019, the Greater Chennai Corporation, with much fanfare, launched a project to set up vertical gardens on the pillars under many flyovers to increase green spaces. At least 14 flyovers were chosen for the project at a cost of ₹8 crore.

Three years later, there is barely any greenery in these vertical gardens. With wilted plants and the panels that were installed for the plants remaining dusty or empty, they largely remain an eyesore today.

The Hindu visited 13 of these flyovers on Wednesday: the G.K. Moopanar flyover in Nandanam, the flyovers in L.B. Road junction in Adyar, Gandhi Mandapam Road, Royapettah High Road, two flyovers on Peters Road, the one on Pantheon Road, C.P. Ramaswamy Road, South Usman Road, North Usman Road, the Doveton flyover in Purasawalkam, the one at the intersection of Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai and T.T.K. Road, and the Mint flyover.

Barring two exceptions, the vertical gardens in the remaining 11 are in an abandoned state. The exceptions were the one on C.P. Ramaswamy Road and the one closer to it on Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai. Even under these two flyovers, only the few pillars closer to the intersection of the roads are maintained well while the others are in a bad shape.

In all other places, members of the public said they did not see anyone coming for any kind of maintenance work or to water the plants for several months. “If I remember correctly, this was set up in 2020. For the initial few months, it was all green. After that it has remained pretty much in this shape,” said C. Arumugam, a share auto driver, pointing to the garden set up under the Mint flyover near the clock tower.

To mitigate the issue to regularly water the plants, the project included setting up of a small sewage treatment plant (STP) of 5 kilolitre capacity under each of these flyovers. The STPs will treat the sewage water taken from the nearest point of drainage network and the treated water will be used to water the plant through an automated system that reduced human intervention.

This system has stopped working under all the flyovers. Acknowledging that some of these gardens were in poor condition, a senior official from the Corporation said the problem was multipronged and the civic body will soon be addressing them.

Orders cancelled

To begin with, after the initial phase of the project, private enterprises were asked to adopt the regular maintenance of the gardens as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative. All the flyovers were handed over to private enterprises, who did the work without any incentives from the Corporation. “Apart from the couple of places that are properly maintained, we have now cancelled the orders issued to all the other enterprises that failed to maintain the gardens properly.”

While alternative arrangements have been made for the maintenance of the plants, the official said that separate set of steps were under way for issuing annual maintenance contracts for the STPs.

Moreover, the official said the plants that were initially chosen were not suited to the conditions here and they died quickly. “Once other issues are sorted, we are planning to use more of ‘money-plant’ in the gardens as they survive better in these conditions,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2022 6:43:32 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/vertical-gardens-under-chennais-flyovers-left-high-and-dry/article65755023.ece