CHENNAI: Five years from the day it was launched, the restoration work of the Mambalam-Nandanam canal is still incomplete, in yet another example of the City Corporation’s laxity in completing projects.
Speaking to City Express, officials cited a hold up in removing encroachments as a reason for the delay of the project, whose completion date has extended four times in the last five years. The last extension period also wound down on March 31, but the Rs 100 crore, JNNURM-funded project is still nowhere near completion.
“Removal of encroachments is taking time. We are still in the process of enumerating the families and gathering their biometrics to forward to the TN Slum Clearance Board,” said a senior official.
“The difficulty is in authenticating the deserving persons. Some of them expressed disinterest to move to Okkiyam Thoraipakkam, while some families were claiming for more tenements citing another family member as a beneficiary,” added the official.
Desilting and declogging of the city’s major waterways was taken up by the Corporation of Chennai following instances of flooding when the city received heavy rainfall on a single day. Illegal outfalls emptying sewage into canals and the city’s storm water drain network carrying sewage round the year are the reasons for flooding.Restoration of Mambalam- Nandanam canal project involves laying of arterial, feeder and collector drains along the 60.79 km length of the canal. The project also requires reconstruction of the brick walls of the canal and a raise in its height to prevent flooding during heavy rainfall. The project was awarded to contractors R Krishnamoorthy and Co. On May 5, 2010. The contractors were awarded two extensions - one on January 3, 2013 and the second time until March 31, 2014. In this stage, a third extension was given until September 30, 2014 vide a council resolution dated May 30, 2014. The extension was given after a stern warning by corporation which also said that it wouldn’t bear the project’s escalation costs.
However, in the council meeting held recently, a post-dated approval of a fourth extension until March 31, 2015 was granted, with the corporation also agreeing to bear the escalation costs after the contractor reasoned that the price of cement and raw materials had shot up since the time when the project was awarded.
“We agreed to bear the escalation costs because the fault was on our side. If we had been able to clear encroachments, the project would have moved on swiftly,” said an official.
Despite that, the project is only 80 per cent complete. The Slum Board officials whom CE spoke to also said that they have written to the Corporation of Chennai, asking them to expedite evictions. “The Perumbakkam tenements are nearing completion. Slum Board can provvide enough families, but the corporation has to give us the list,” an official said.