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Vol. XXXII No. 6, July 1-15, 2022

Storm water drainage works gather momentum as rainy days loom ahead

-- by A Special Correspondent

The recent spate of rains left multiple localities inundated, bringing to the fore once again the subject of the city’s stormwater drainage systems. When Mayor R. Priya assumed charge earlier this year, it was reported that the Corporation’s primary focus would be the expediting of storm water drainage projects worth Rs. 184 crores based on the Thiruppugazh Committee’s interim report, which recommended building drains in Seethammal Colony off Chittaranjan Salai, P.V. Rajamannar Salai in KK Nagar, 18th Avenue in Ashok Nagar, Parangusuparam in Zone 10, Sydenhams Road in Zone 5, Habibullah Road in Zone 9, Demellows Road, Decaster Road and Munuswamy road in Puliyanthope. It was also said that authorities would carry out further stormwater drainage works worth Rs. 250 crores based on its own findings of water stagnation in 568 places, all with the aim of preparing for the oncoming northeast monsoons. While the deadline for the current projects is set for September, over 1,033 kms of stormwater drainage is proposed to be constructed across the city at a total cost of Rs. 4,070 crores over the next three years.

The authorities are striving to meet their promises to the city. The GCC has dug up close to 560 roads for the construction of storm water drains, including streets in areas such as Teynampet, Alwarpet, T. Nagar, Kolathur, Kodambakkam, Velachery, Adyar and Puliyanthope. In addition, around 1,000 kms of drains will be desilted as well, with nearly 300 kms covering the Adyar zone. Further, in order to reduce inconveniences to residents, contractors on the job have been issued clear instructions to avoid damaging sewer lines and electrical cables while digging; residents too have been encouraged to dial the Corporation helpline number 1913 to complain about civic issues in dug up roads. It was also reported that the Corporation re-designed the alignment of new drains in an effort to save trees.

The Municipal Administration and Water Supply Secretary Shiv Das Meena conducted a review of the projects earlier this month. Based on findings that three contractors have delayed the construction of stormwater drains along Ambedkar College Road, Vembuli Amman Salai and Rangaiah Road, the Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi has ordered penal action against them in response. The contractors have reportedly been slapped with a fine of Rs. 75,000 with a warning that further delay will invite further action.

However, challenges remain. Many report disruptions of essential services – water and power supply, as well as telecom services – despite touted measures to alleviate civic inconvenience. ­Commuters complain that the work has shrunk the width of the roads while others point out that the digging has left tree roots weakened in several stretches. Residents in several neighbourhoods exhort the administrative arms to coordinate with each other to ensure that utilities are uninterrupted and the greenery undamaged.

Based on media reports, it is quite unarguable that the administration seems to be striving to do its best with this particular project, so one hopes that it can alleviate residents’ woes even as it races to meet ambitious timelines. Large-scale civic projects demand collaboration between executive agencies and the public and the stormwater drainage project is no exception. If only the Corporation can address residential complaints on a more efficient footing, the project is certain to win the approboation of the people when it comes to completion in September.

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