CHENNAI: Close to securing the World Bank loan, the Chennai Corporation is all set to start work on the Integrated Stormwater Drain (ISWD) project, which seeks to construct an extensive storm water drain network, besides reconstructing and augmenting the existing network along the city’s four basins — Kosasthalaiyar, Adyar, Cooum and Kovalam.
The `4,034-crore project, with the initial Rs.1,100 being extended by the World Bank, will begin with the construction of drains in the Adyar and Cooum basins, measuring 82 kilometres and 188 kilometres respectively, in the next few months.
The new project seeks to bring about a change in the design, as per the Environment Impact Assessment report submitted to the World Bank. Use of pre-cast concrete for the drains to prevent rupturing is one of the design tweaks.
It was conceived as an action plan to prevent flooding during monsoons in the expanded areas of the Chennai Corporation and North Chennai. However, officials here are sceptical about the effectiveness of integrating the stormwater drains, due to the lack of coordination between nodal agencies. The most common among this is the illegal sewer connections and indiscriminate laying of utility lines. “We have lost count of the number of times the drains have been illegally ruptured to let off a sewage line or lay utility lines like electricity, telephone and broadband cables. With so many cables and pipes, silt gets deposited and it gets clogged,” said a senior official.
This lack of coordination is best highlighted at Ashok Nagar. An SWD was damaged when Chennai Metro Rail was carrying out pillar work. As a temporary fix, CMRL altered the drain position, but without taking into account the height factor while realigning, leading to flooding in the area during the recent rain.
The State Highways Department maintaining the SWD did not think it necessary to act on the problem. With complaints mounting, the civic body finally ended up spending ` 8 lakh to fix it.