concrete road
Concrete Road at T Nagar

Barely fifteen days after the battering that our city ­received by way of the rains, our Corporation swung into ­action. And by that we do not mean it was done with new ­dynamism. It just went back to all its old ways, which is indeed a pity, given that at least part of the problem was caused by the shoddy manner in which it executed its civic projects.
Take the example of road works that are now in progress. Not a thought is being given to correcting the errors of the past. Every pot hole is filled in with loose gravel and a coat of tar is being put on it. Within a couple of weeks, and with ­vehicles repeatedly going over these, all the filling would have worn away.
If that is not bad enough, levels are not being looked into. All roads with flyovers now have slopes leading away from the pillars to the surrounding streets. These gradients have just got steeper with the recent repair works. Consequently, any time it rains next, you know where the water is lgoing to drain from – the flyovers and the main roads onto the streets. Now, how are the drains laid? From the side roads on to the main roads. But if the lanes are at a lower level, then? Common sense isn’t it? But not for the civic agency evidently.
Come to think of it, the Corporation is not the only culprit. There is talk of the Highways Department reviving the elevated road along the Cooum. Apparently, the necessary clearances have been obtained from the National Green Tribunal. The greatest worry with this is that the pillars are going to eat into the riverbed, thereby impeding water flow. This may not be much of an issue on normal days but when the rains come and water levels rise, these pillars are bound to cause flooding of surrounding areas. We have already seen instances of this with the MRTS raising pillars in the Buckingham Canal. When confronted with this, it is reliably learnt that those in charge of such matters have shrugged it off saying that the canal with its 5,000 cusecs capacity could hardly have contained a 55,000 (or was it 80,000) cusecs flood. But that is not the point here. While we hope that deluges of such magnitude will not befall us again, we need to be prepared for such eventualities. Keeping our waterways free of encroachments would not be a bad idea.
Last but perhaps the most damaging of all is the adamance with which the Tirumazhisai satellite town is being planned and thrust upon the city. Straddling as it will the mouth of the Chembarambakkam tank (which caused all the recent misery), continuing with this scheme will be nothing short of disaster. Once again, the thinking appears to be that such floods are unlikely to recur. A township at the mouth would be nothing short of a ticking time bomb.
It is time our administration, and that includes officials and parties in power, shed their timeworn ideas and schemes. What has happened recently is a call for reform – in planning, execution and development. Simply declaring new plans with no thought on environmental impact is merely going to make matters worse in our city. The people have shown that they are all for change – the voluntary decision of some Kovilambakkam residents to demolish their encroachments is an instance. It will be a pity if the administration does not read these signs and insists on having its away.