Patience is wearing thin among the residents of Chitlapakkam, courtesy yet-to-be-completed cut-and-cover drain project. A crucial flood mitigation project, shared by both the Public Works Department and the Chitlapakkam Town Panchayat, was given a six-month deadline for completion, but nearly a year later, the work seems to be far from over.
While concretisation of the stormwater channels has been completed in a few streets, residents complain that the channels have not been linked with the other streets to allow smooth passage of floodwater. “The drain which originates from Sethunarayanan Street has not been linked with the canals in Bharathi Street, Sokkanathar Street and Maraimalai Adigal Street. Similarly, the channel at Pamban Swamigal Salai has not been linked with Maraimalai Adigal Street. How will the channels carry the floodwater to the lake or mitigate flooding in Chitlapakkam if the link channels haven’t been built yet,” asks a resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The PWD has just started digging trenches at Balaji Avenue and at one section of Babu Street.
He says that discharge of sewage from Tambaram Municipality into the vacant land behind the sluice regulator has not stopped, despite the Municipality’s assurances to the residents to divert the sewage via underground drain networks.
At Maruthupandiar Street, where the PWD project has been dragging on since last September, work is still in progress in about 60 m of the total 220 m. At Pamban Swamigal Salai, where the construction of the drain is complete, the link channel work is still pending and the road also is not laid; Bharathi Street too awaits a new road.
“If the link channels are not built before the onset of the monsoon, which is not too far away, Chitlapakkam will go under water. A locality prone to heavy flooding even in the shortest spell of rain, the sluggish pace of work is worrying us,” adds the resident.
In an earlier report, The Hindu Downtown had highlighted the incomplete network at Thirumagal Nagar Second Street, where the drain which originates from Abraham Lincoln Street and ends abruptly here. Last month, the panchayat closed the opening of the channel by dumping soil, after a lorry fell into the pit. The residents are unsure if the drain will be opened again and completed.
“Though the panchayat attended to the safety threats that the open pit posed, leaving it closed will cause heavy flooding. Water flowing from Abraham Lincoln Street will flood Thirumagal Nagar if the channel is not completed. We have requested the panchayat to complete the drain before monsoon, but the local body says there aren’t enough funds,” says another resident and urges the panchayat to resume work at this street.
A senior official from the Chitlapakkam Town Panchayat, denied claims of fund crunch, and said that construction of the link channels will be completed in 15 days and the entire project, including laying of new roads would be over by September 30.
The PWD too has promised to complete the project by September 30. An official attributed the delay to late agreements, contractor and infrastructure issues. However, the department has hired more workforce to complete the project before the northeast monsoon arrives.