CHENNAI: In conversation with Deputy Mayor M Magesh Kumar, who explains to DT Next about the city’s monsoon preparatory works and the confidence he shows in assuring a flood-free Chennai. Excerpts…
Storm water drain (SWD) construction work commenced across the city a few months ago. What’s the status now?
The SWD work in most areas will be completed by October this year. It’s going on at a fast pace across the city. Most impacted areas are identified and prioritised to complete the work at the earliest. There are several challenges while constructing SWDs such as electricity cables, uprooting of trees, drinking water pipes in the underground. They needed to be discussed with the concerned departments to relocate cables and pipes to complete the work. A committee was formed under the leadership of retired bureaucrat Thirupugazh. It inspected the flood-prone areas in the city. Based on the report it submitted, the flood mitigation work was formulated and implemented. The prioritised areas in the city are zones 4,5,6,9,10; almost 60-70% of work is completed here.
Residents of T Nagar lament the failure of the Smart City project due to the inundation residents of the area suffered in 2021. What steps have been taken to rectify the problem?
The Smart City project was implemented well, but the SWD was not linked properly to the channels carrying water and this was the major cause for inundation. The issue has been recognised and we’ll ensure that there won’t be flooding during the monsoon this year.
The old drainage system is relatively small – one of the reasons the city is often flooded. Has the issue been addressed?
The SWD constructed 20 years ago has smaller passages which makes it difficult for the water flow. We’ve identified such bottle necks and reconstruction work is in progress. The drain was designed by a team of experts from IIT-Madras after studying the baseline civic parameters like width, height and the hydrology flow of streets.
Public woes, particularly traffic jam, due to the SWD construction work is an issue. Can the corporation resolve this issue soon?
During the rainy season, there was traffic congestion in places where SWD construction was going on. The Corporation is working overtime to finish the work. The public should cooperate for a month or two and the situation will go back to normal before the onset of the monsoon season. We’ve also urged the authorities to finish the work on priority near schools and colleges.
What steps are taken to prevent flood-related mishaps during monsoon season?
The flood alleviation projects of greater Chennai are monitored by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The CM had directed councillors a while ago that each ward should have a team comprising government department officials like Tangedco, Fire Safety and others to investigate any complaints that would endanger public life such as fallen trees, electrocution or waterlogging in the streets. Zonal officials will also identify places where stray animals can be shifted and accommodated.
Councillors had highlighted that grievances raised in the previous council meeting have not been resolved yet. Your response...
We’ll address grievances related to GCC, but some ward members have raised concerns that are inter-departmental or related to the government. Such issues cannot be resolved by the GCC. There’s a jurisdictional limit, but their grievances have been forwarded to the government departments for their intervention.