Removal of encroachments, a major task for Corporation

CHENNAI OCT. 28. Even as the desilting work on Mambalam canal is in progress, the Chennai Corporation faces the task of keeping canal banks free of encroachments.

In some pockets, the civic machinery has removed a section of the encroaching huts to make way for the heavy equipment.

Wherever huts were a hindrance to the free movement of earth moving equipment, they would be removed. Elsewhere, desilting work was carried out without disturbing the structures, Corporation officials explained.

"The prime objective is to desilt the canal, which has been clogged for the past 30 years. If huts are in the way, they are removed. We are maintaining a list of those who have been displaced thus and are inclined to examine options of alternative accommodation," said a Corporation officer. The Slum Clearance Board has promised 200 houses in Okkiyam Thorapakkam for those who have been displaced during desilting operations, the officer added.

Complaints of sewage being let out into the canals or garbage being dumped inside were still coming in.

If the encroaching structures were not taken off, enforcement of such things would be problematic, the official added.

The civic body also maintained that a concrete government policy on encroachments would be the only long lasting solution to the problem.

Along the stretch between G.N.Chetty Road and Venkatanarayana Road, the civic body proposed to clear at least 16 feet of land between the canal and the road to make way for movement of lorries and heavy equipment used for desilting.

The rest of the land (if any) between the canal and the road would be marked out and families displaced due to desilting works would be allowed to set up temporary structures till alternative arrangements were made, according to sources in the civic body.

Meanwhile, a major portion of the six kilometre-long canal has been desilted for an average depth of 2.5 metres, they added. The canal runs from Valluvar Kottam and makes its way through G.N.Chetty Road and Venkatanarayana Road before crossing Anna Salai near

Thadandar Nagar, Saidapet and emptying into the Adyar. The ongoing works are likely to be over by the month end after which water would flow freely into the Adyar, the official added.

The second phase of restoration of the canal will begin when the stormwater drain department gets its act together to construct a retaining wall along the canal bank.

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