CHENNAI: Half-measures can sometime lead to unintended effects. Several residents in Chitlapakkam learned this bitter truth during the cyclone-induced flooding in last week. Thanks to the partially constructed stormwater drains in the area, the residents in more than 200 houses were stuck inside inundated houses during the rains.
“In the first week of October in 2018, we saw some men from Chitlapakkam panchayat working on a cut-and-cover drain in private premises of a school and an apartment near Thirumagal Nagar. When enquired, the workers said they were constructing a cut-and-cover drain from Vydyalingam street to Sembakkam lake connecting Thirumagal Nagar, Chitlapakkam Main Road and GD Naidu Street,” said Dayanand Krishnan, a long-time resident of Thirumagal Nagar Second Street.
The residents opposed the move because the Chitlapakkam panchayat had already floated tenders to construct stormwater drains in seven localities at a cost of `5 crore and the Public Works Department had floated tenders at the cost of `12.5 crore to construct drains in other streets, including Babu street, only 200 metres away from Thirumagal Nagar.
The project undertaken by both the authorities was to connect an artificial pond in Sethunarayanan street to Sembakkam lake.However, two years down the line, neither the town panchayat nor the PWD have completed the job. “The scheduled deadline was October 2019. From dusty roads to sludge, we have been bearing everything. The drain was constructed only on Nazeeb street and was left open. Whenever it rains, streets connecting Nazeeb street get flooded,” said one of the residents.
Areas like Babu street, Bharathi street, Chokkanadhar street, Sethunarayan street and Thirumagal Nagar often bear the brunt whenever it rains.R Vimala, a resident said, “If this is the situation during the first rain of this monsoon season, we cannot imagine what would be our plight during rest of the monsoon. Already, instances of motorists and pedestrians falling into open pits have become common.”When contacted, the officials of the panchayat said the PWD has laid drains only in one street and they are working on a permanent solution to connect it to Sembakkam lake.