CHENNAI: An under-repair storm water drain on MKB Nagar Main Road, which takes flood waters from the area to Captain Cotton Canal in North Chennai, has taken a slight but curious detour from the original plan. The nearly 90-metre drain that was supposed to be desilted and repaired, now includes a new construction for a stretch of about 25 metres due to the deviation.
This, officials claim, was done to ensure that the drain can be desilted easily, and even cited the stern directive from the Supreme Court against employing manual scavengers for the work. However, as City Express found out, there is another reason as well — a Vinayaka Temple on the pavement, right on top of the stormwater drain.
Instead of removing the encroachment, officials allegedly decided to deviate the route of the drain to go behind the unauthorised structure. This had led to delays and cost over-runs.
This confusion had even prompted a contractor to give up on the project, following which a new person had stepped in to complete the work, though civic body officials denied it.
What eventually became Sri Valamburi Vyasa Vinayagar temple, started off with a small Ganesha idol kept under the banyan tree by a group of auto-rickshaw drivers from the local stand about two decades ago.
According to a shopkeeper in the neighbourhood, the temple was built over the years, attracting many devotees from nearby. Gradually, it became an established structure, observing an annual day that is celebrated in a big way.
Not all are happy though. ED Elango, coordinator of the NGO, Thevai Iyakkam, said the officials should have pulled down the structure instead of deviating the SWD plan.
“They have made sure that there is no damage done to the structure. On whose instructions did these officials take the decision? Because of this, they have cut off the service lane and the work has been dragging on for more than a month, wasting public money. At a time when the Madras High Court has directed the Corporation to pull down obstacles that hinder pedestrian movement, this attitude on the part of the officials is surprising,” said Elango.
When City Express visited the place, an official at the site said a new contractor had to be brought in after the earlier one gave up the project as he found it difficult to carry out the work without disturbing the temple.
However, a senior Corporation official denied that the contract had changed hands, maintaining that work was delayed due to heavy rains. “Now we have resumed it and work is going on in full swing,” he said.
According to the official’s explanation, they decided to construct it new instead of repairing the portion under the temple because it was apparently difficult to desilt it and would require sending a person inside the drain to clean it. This, he insisted, was a violation of Supreme Court order.
“So we made a bend near the temple on the service lane. It will now be easy to do regular maintenance,” he added.