Chennai: Motorists and locals at Shanti Colony Fourth Avenue of Anna Nagar here got the shock of their lives when the busy road just caved into a 15-foot hole with a loud thud. Luckily, none was injured as no pedestrian or motorist was passing over the space at that time-the busy 8 a.m.
"I was walking close by and then there was a loud sound to my right. I was shocked seeing a portion of the road just sinking and a large hole happening, just like you see in a movie. In no time, onlookers rushed to the edge of the hole to peer in. There were a couple of large cables hanging in there and a lot of loose soil", said Muni Reddy, a local resident, adding, "It’s sheer good luck that no motorist or biker was passing over that road at that time".
Some persons present at the spot called the police and the Chennai Corporation. Officials from the Corporation and the CMDA arrived a short while later to study the mishap. It appeared, prima facie, that the underground sewage pipe that carried wastewater to a nearby pumping station had collapsed with the manhole lid sinking to about 15 ft.
The CMDA workers started work to fill up the sinkhole while the police barricaded the affected area to prevent mishaps and also to enable the civic authorities to carry out the repairing without hindrance. A JCB was used to take out the lid and to fill in the earth to some extent, till the engineers assessed the main cause for the damage and take long-term measures to correct it.
A department engineer requesting anonymity said it was possible that the road caved in because of the various cable operators just dug up the earth and closed it after running their cables through. They should have used the sturdy trench-less technology but chose to adopt cheap and quick methods, he said, pointing to a couple of cables dangling inside the road-hole. "These cable operators have not taken official permission, it appears", he said.
He said the cables would have to be dug out first and the decision on relaying would be taken after the filling up of earth and insisting on the trench-less technology.
Perhaps the CMDA and sister agencies should also embark on a field-audit in a phased manner of important roads in the city, which register heavy vehicular flow, to compare with the road disasters like the present one at Shanti Colony to devise means to prevent its recurrence.