Chennai: The Greater Chennai Corporation and various civic departments are racing against time to complete work on a network of storm water drains with a deadline of October 10 ahead of the northeast monsoon which according to the IMD is expected to set in by October 15 in Tamil Nadu.
After chairing a meeting with officials of the corporation, metrowater, public works department and electricity board on Monday, Chennai mayor R Priya said that the drains are planned in consultation with IIT-Madras and in places where there is probability of water stagnation despite the infrastructure, pump motors have been allotted.
Chennai is currently a mess with interior roads across the city being dug up to construct drains. “It will be an inconvenience this year but the infrastructure is a long-term plan for the next 10 to 20 years. So people will see the benefits,” the mayor told reporters.
The mayor said that 95% of work has been completed under Phase 1 and 2 of Singara Chennai 2.0. “In this package (Singara Chennai) we prioritised places which were badly affected during the last rains. The remaining 5% is the work to complete the connectivity links between the drains. We have directed this to be completed before 10 October. Water will not inundate these places,” the mayor promised. Besides this, 69% work for drains under Flood Relief funds, 88% under Infrastructure and Amenities funds and 85% utilising World Bank funds have been completed.
Desilting of water bodies, including the rivers of Cooum, Adyar and Kosasthalaiyar as wells the Buckingham canal across Chennai, is also being done at full speed. Workers have desilted 1,050 km out of a total of 1,348 km. Tamil Nadu chief secretary Irai Anbu who inspected the water bodies on Sunday has instructed the corporation to complete desilting work before October 7.
Minister for Hindu religious and charitable endowments Sekar Babu, who also attended the meeting, said that work on 1,200 km of drains is going on. “We are expanding the capacity of the drains which were laid for 60 years from 5 inches to 10 inches,” Babu said. “This will be an inconvenience for the public for now but we hope they understand that they will get a permanent solution.”
Last week, on September 28, two hours of incessant heavy rains waterlogged several parts of the city worrying its population about the ensuing monsoon-related woes. Parts of central and north Chennai, such as KK Nagar and Tondiarpet, where new drains are being constructed were inundated.
On the following day, chief minister M K Stalin accompanied by GCC commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi inspected a few areas and interacted with residents such as those in Velachery, in the southern part of Chennai, which is perennially flooded. A resident, R Subramanian, questioned the time frame of such works.
“They want to dig good roads to give us drains. It’s fine. But when the monsoon is so close, we don’t see the drains being completed soon,” the resident said, adding that barricades have to be put up with the contractor’s name and dates of the work starting and ending so the residents and commuters are aware of the details.