The integrated storm water drain project in the Kosasthalaiyar river basin stretching across five city zones, the corporation’s most expensive civic project, has been stalled due to protests over irregularities in the estimates prepared.
The most contentious issue is that the Rs 2,470-crore project undertaken using a loan from the Asian Development Bank covers ‘missing link’ of drains, built and linked at Rs 200 crore before the Kosasthalaiyar project tenders were finalized. Now, it includes several drains on the ‘missing link’ stretch which doesn’t require any new construction. Contractors say they are ready to compensate it by building drains for equal length in some other area in the city. Also, spending another Rs 200 crore in sandy parts of Madhavaram where concrete drains are not required because water percolation happens naturally and quickly, too has attracted criticism.
The detailed project report (DPR) for the drain network was prepared in 2014-2015, but before it could be tendered, the missing link projects were completed by 2020. A contractor allotted a Rs 16 crore project in the Madhavaram zone told TOI about Rs 4 crore worth drain construction was completed under the missing link drain. “I paid earnest money deposit and now I do not know what to do.”
Last week, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar residents took to the streets after corporation engineers couldn’t answer where the rain water would drain through the new network. K V Arumugam of Thirumalai Nagar said about 13km of drains was laid 13 years ago in the area. “Despite this, we face water logging every year. Now, these drains are being demolished and replaced. Unless they do a survey and change the gradient and study the invert levels, how will the project work? The 13km drain cost Rs 20 crore.”
In MMDA-Mathur area, residents said drains were being constructed on streets as narrow as 7 feet. “Foundations of houses were at risk,” said R S Babu, a civic activist.
A highways official said the project also covers several state highways. “Our department has already laid several drains under emergency work post 2015-floods. We have no idea why they were included in the packages,” he said. That would be worth another Rs 20 crore.
A retired PWD official said there were several flood prone areas in the 128 sq km basin that has eight major lakes and 71 minor tanks. “But the civic body lacks technical expertise. Most times, it doesn’t check gradients and most canals and drains constructed even in 2018 do not carry the water to the river,” he said, citing Ambattur surplus channel as an example. Unless the designs are studied and it is ensured that gradients are right, these drains will only carry sewage as Metrowater hasn’t completed the underground sewerage system, he added.
A senior corporation official said a weekly review of the project was on. “We have put in a team that will monitor the work. We will ensure gradients and maps are followed. We will also pay for the work executed by the contractor and not that has been done already.” Asked if tenders will be cancelled, he said deviations from DPR were not uncommon. “We will revise the project if necessary.”
Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by Water Today staff and is generated from news feeds. Source: The Times of India