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Is it all down the drain?

The city Corporation’s Singara Chennai 2.0 project included the construction of storm water drains across the city last year. The project wasn’t a complete success, as open drains and construction materials left in certain areas add to the woes of denizens, already reeling from other infrastructural constraints

Is it all down the drain?
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) was scheduled to complete the phases 1 and 2 of SWD projects by mid-April this year

CHENNAI: Though the civic body took an effort to prevent water stagnation during the northeast monsoon in 2022 by constructing storm water drains (SWD) in the city, inundation could not be prevented in several years.

When DT Next visited several places, the drain works were put on hold due to technical issues. It may be noted that recently, the city corporation council had adopted a resolution making certain that technical changes in SWD works were implemented in the Egmore constituency.

The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) was scheduled to complete the phases 1 and 2 of SWD projects by mid-April this year, but the ambitious project under the Singara Chennai 2.0 scheme is nowhere near completion.

Technical glitches

The SWDs in Virugambakkam were constructed quickly in 2022 and completed before the northeast monsoon. However, when there was intense rainfall in October and November last year, the drains didn’t do its job.

“These SWDs did not work last year, and this led to waterlogging especially on Double Tank Road and Rajannamalai Salai. We had a tough time commuting through these roads and negotiating over the potholes. It took 3-4 days for the civic authorities to pump out the stagnated water,” recalled Paul Pradeep, a resident of Valasaravakkam.

The people pointed out that instead of focusing on completing the work quickly, the civic body should have planned well in advance and started as soon as the monsoon withdrew from the State. “There seems to be lack of coordination with contractors; the work has been split between sub-contractors. Work in interior roads is being done by a different contractor and the main road work by another; there’s no coordination,” added Paul.

Residents of Kamarajar Salai that has the Pondicherry Guest House were severely impacted due to inundation. The local body has been reconstructing it to rectify and prevent flooding for the upcoming monsoon season.

Sooriya Basheer, a resident of Kamakoti apartment in T Nagar said that the GCC prioritised the locality ever since the flooding of 2021. The works were carried out in Phase 1 last year.

“However, the system was a failure. Even for moderate showers, we experienced knee-deep water in October and November last year. Since there was a blockage in the sewage system, the entire apartment was flooded with drainage water. After multiple complaints to the zonal office, the water was drained after 3 days,” lamented Basheer.

Incomplete works

“Usually, during the monsoon season, the entire road and interior streets would be flooded and remain like that for a while. In December, the civic body commenced the SWD construction here, but it stopped for some reason. So now, this has become an accident-prone zone even for walkers,” averred A Arumairaj from Indira Gandhi Street, Tiruvottiyur.

As the construction has been permanently stopped, open pits have become a dumping ground with sewage water and plastic wastes found inside them. “When workers resume work, they must clear waste items, and desilt the drain,” he opined. “Even the existing drains are filled with garbage in many areas. This worsens the situation during the monsoon season.”

Similarly, in many places, SWD construction materials have been unloaded, and left there, as the work is yet to begin. No safety measures were found near the incomplete drains site.

“The incomplete SWD becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, as the drains fill with drainage water. It has been a month since the GCC officials stopped work. Though we’ve raised complaints to the concerned department, nothing is being done,” fumed a resident of Alwarpet.

Relief in interior roads

Earlier, when there was inundation in the interior roads, it would take over a week for civic workers to show up, inspect and drain it completely.

After the Chennai corporation began SWD construction, the work stopped for a few days due to an internal issue between the local body and contract workers.

“Thankfully, now it has resumed. During the monsoon season last year, there was no water stagnation, which was a huge relief for us,” said V Sathiabalan, a civic activist.

In Phase 1, due to the SWD project, there weren’t many areas that suffered flooding last year. The civic body identified areas and points of inundation, and carried out rectification works. The SWD construction work was done in different parts of the Cooum river, Adyar river, Kosasthalaiyar river, and Kovalam basin.

“Though some works were completed before monsoon, there are several pending. In priority areas, we’ve commenced work at an estimated cost of Rs 70 crore under the Singara Chennai 2.0 project. It’s expected to be completed by mid-April,” said K Vijayakumar, superintending engineer, SWD, city Corporation.

The GCC will carry out pending and priority works under the Singara Chennai 2.0 project with funding from World Bank, and will be completed before monsoon.

Regarding desilting drains, the civic body has instructed zonal offices to provide an estimated cost for doing it. The work is likely to begin in April.

Instead of carrying out the construction work within a shorter duration, the civic body could have started the work as soon as the monsoon withdrew from the State

Singara chennai Project

Sharma Nagar, Pundithangamala Street, Pullainthope Postal colony, West Mambalam, Kamaraj Avenue, Kasturi Bai Nagar, City Link Road Nethaji Road, AGS Colony, Pantheon Road, Teynampet Ellaiamman Koil

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Swedha Radhakrishnan
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