‘They come, pose for photos, push off’

Affected residents puncture civic body’s claim that excess rainwater is being pumped out
CHENNAI: Even as the Chennai corporation maintains that most water stagnated areas in the city have been drained clear, the real picture seems to suggest otherwise. Several areas in North Chennai, including Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s constituency R.K. Nagar, is yet to recover from stagnation crisis. On Thursday, R.K. Nagar residents still had to wade through ankle-deep sewage, a plight they are resigned to endure.
“Ministers, Mayor and corporation officials came by to inspect a few areas where flooding was little. Actually, there are more areas here which is suffering from stagnated water. Mosquitoes are breeding and we live in fear of reptiles like snakes,” said G. Kirubakaran, a resident. The stagnation reality also goes against the corporation’s stance where the local body has been insisting they have pressed over 300 hand pumps into service to drain out excess water.
Areas like Sathya Nagar, Meenambal Nagar in Korukkupet, Kolathur, Tondiarpet, New Washermenpet still remain submerged under knee deep water. Korattur in Ambattur is one of the best examples of how official negligence has affected families. Thamarakulamedu, Highways Nagar and Kaviya Nagar among other locations have been submerged since the end of October, residents complain. “Water has not drained off here since rain on October 28,” said Sangeetha, a 14-year-old school student.
She complains she has not been able to attend school regularly due to stagnating water and the presence of snakes. Another resident, Sathish Kumar, said though the local MLA and other officials came visiting, very little had changed. “They come and stand at a safe distance. People click their photos and then they leave,” an irate Kumar told DC.
Corporation officials in Ambattur and Thiru Vi Ka Nagar zones told DC that work is on in full swing to drain the water out. We are disposing of the excess water into Korattur Lake,” said an official.
At Kolathur, officials said a problem with the drain mechanism into the Retteri Lake was the reason for stagnation.
Yercaud Hills limping back to normalcy:
Hit by heavy downpour, Yercaud hills, a popular tourist destination in Western Tamil Nadu, is slowly limping back to normalcy with officials working round the clock to restore the devastated hill route. District collector V. Sampath who inspected the restoration works on Thursday said bus services will resume from Friday. Vehicular traffic on the Yercaud hill road came to a grinding halt over the last two days due to landslides triggered by heavy rains.
Following some restoration work, two-wheelers and cars were permitted to ply on Thursday. The hill town was also plunged into darkness after electric poles got uprooted due to heavy winds. There were landslides at around 23 spots along the hill route and 89 electric poles got uprooted disrupting power supply.
Three persons died in rain related incidents and 122 huts were damaged, Sampath told journalists. “Compensation has been paid to those affected by rains and adequate medicines have been stocked at government hospitals to face any emergency situation,” he said.
Salem received 313 mm of rainfall against its average of 172 mm.
Battered road breaks motorists’ back:
The Chennai corporation has no short term plans to restore Velachery main road as the local body will only execute minimum intervention measures to make the road motorable. Velachery main road, one of the busiest and traffic-loaded bus route roads in the city, has been battered beyond recognition during the recent northeast monsoon spell.
A 400m portion between the corporation’s ward office and Sutherland Global Services company is riddled with potholes while the stretch between Dhandeeswaram bus stop and Velachery police station is non-motorable and only has a loose gravel trail remaining. “The pitiable condition of the road is beyond description,” is what S. Rangan, a local resident, had to say. MTC bus drivers, who spoke to DC on condition of anonymity, said driving through the road extended their trip time by 45 to 60 minutes. “Driving on this road is damaging not only the buses and other private vehicles but also our backbone,” said an MTC driver.
But, a silent blame game between the local body and Chennai metro water is the reason behind the corporation’s stance, as officials said they are fed up with the inordinate delay by the latter in completing the pipeline work. “Metro water is laying pipelines for Nemmeli desalination plant second phase operations. There is still a good portion where they have not laid the pipes. At many points, even after completion of their work and the corporation patching up the area with two layers of bitumen, they still dug it up. So, we have come to the decision that we will not waste our money relaying without obtaining complete NOC from metro water,” said a senior official.
“Only minimum intervention whereby the road is made partly motorable will be undertaken by us,” the official added. The ‘minimum intervention’ happens to be spewing loose blue metal on the battered portions of the road. When DC visited the area, it was found that loose gravel made riding extremely difficult for two-wheeler riders, many of whom were exhibiting phenomenal balancing skills to not fall down.
Meanwhile, metro water was in no mood to cow down to the finger pointing from its sister agency. Senior officials told DC that the corporation staff were blaming their agency just for the sake of it. “Our work is happening only in the western portion of the road. There is no plausible explanation for why the road was torn apart in the middle during the rains. So it is easier to just point an accusing finger on us,” the official said.
The official did, however, admit the agency was yet to lay pipes for a 400 m portion on the road. “We will have to wait until they give us permission to continue work. I don’t think it will come through before the monsoon ends,” the official said. Interestingly, the corporation had engaged a private road contractor, KCP contractors, and completed patchwork on the battered stretch only a fortnight ago.
When asked if poor quality patchwork may have led to the present condition, an official said Velachery main road’s volume of traffic was too heavy for the patchwork to hold. Senior officials, however, assured that action will be taken against road contractors whose shoddy work may have resulted in the formation of potholes in the newly relaid roads.

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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