Chennai: Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) had claimed that it would complete desilting stormwater drains for a distance covering 1,894 km in the city but work has not been taken up in many places. This has instilled a sense of fear among residents with northeast monsoon fast approaching.
Urban development experts expressed concern over the growing urbanisation and unplanned construction activities. The civic body was slammed by various quarters after December 2015 floods that inundated Chennai city. It carried out repair work in structures by spending crores of rupees in the last two years.
Though the civic body took up such works many structures, dug for desilting, have been left unattended posing a threat to public and motorists.
M.G. Devasahayam, an urban development expert, and a former civil servant, termed such work an ‘eyewash’. “Greater Chennai corporation does not seem to have learnt lessons from December 2015 floods. Also, the government has failed to identify officers responsible for 2015 floods. Finally, tax payers' money is wasted in the name of monsoon preparation works,” he said.
“Even after such works were taken in the city, will floods be prevented during heavy rains?” he asked, blaming the corporation for permitting more construction activities in the city.
Similarly, A. Veerappan, a former special chief engineer, Chennai region, said that even after Chennai received rains like December 2015 this year, there would not be much difference. “GCC has not fully removed encroachments in the city and it will pave the way for stagnating rainwater resulting in floods,” he said, adding that the GCC has given contracts to agencies for undertaking stormwater work by spending huge sum.
“If heavy rain lasting for an hour lashes the city, there is rainwater flooding roads and residential areas. Further, there is no proper system, in which rainwater should be let into nearby water bodies,” the former engineer noted.
Meanwhile, lack of stormwater system has raised a sense of fear among residents. “I know that the city badly needs rainwater. But, conserving rainwater remains a big concern due to improper stormwater system,” said P. Viswanathan, coordinator of Chitlapakkam Residents Association.
When contacted, a senior official, GCC, stressed that all zonal officials have been instructed to complete desilting of stormwater structures. “We will complete the works before onset of monsoon and we are closely monitoring the works in all zones,” he maintained.