Massive schemes needed, says Commissioner

₹70-crore project proposed for accelerated pumping of stormwater

Chennai requires costly schemes to prevent water stagnation in some areas, including 58 locations where residents have complained about inundation on Thursday, Chennai Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash has said.

“We may need costly schemes to prevent stagnation. A high-powered pumping project, estimated at ₹70 crore, has been proposed. It involves accelerated pumping of stormwater with 500-hp to 1,000-hp pumps,” he said.

Pointing to civic issues reported by residents at K.K. Nagar, Pulianthope, Puzhuthivakkam, Madipakkam and Velachery, Mr. Prakash said the challenges posed by water stagnation in these areas were brought on by natural phenomenon and geography. “The sea level usually rises by 1.5 metre to 2 metre during a cyclone. It is a challenge to drain stormwater during a tidal effect in a city with a flat terrain. The cyclone made landfall 100 km away from the city this time, but it had an impact on all parts of the city. For instance, the level of water in 20 streets of Pulianthope was more than 40 cm. The Greater Chennai Corporation has resolved issues in 40 locations,” said Mr. Prakash.

“Chennai was not the landing point of the cyclone. So the city did not experience the full impact of the cyclone. Only 387 trees were uprooted. At least 350 trees have been removed. Traffic was restored on all major roads on Thursday,” he said.

Stressing the need for infrastructure projects in added areas, he said work on the construction of stormwater drains in the Kosasthalaiyar basin would begin in 10 days. Tenders for building stormwater drains in the Velachery area of the Kovalam basin would be finalised in a few days.

The city has received 55 cm of rainfall so far during the northeast monsoon this year. Normally, it registered 80 cm of rainfall from October to December. Of the 302 complaints received from residents, 170 were yet to be resolved. At least 23,000 employees had worked during the cyclone. The number of complaints was more than 1,000 during the 2015 floods, Mr. Prakash said.

“We have taken precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at relief centres. We have tested all residents at relief centres. A centre with a capacity of 50 people will accommodate only 20 persons because of the pandemic,” Mr. Prakash said. Around 4,000 residents at relief centres have been tested for COVID-19. The third serosurvey was delayed by the storm. “We will conduct a serosurvey in 10 days. Hopefully, it will give confidence to residents,” he said.

“Of the 22 subways, only the Ganesapuram subway still has water stagnation. We are monitoring all subways using our integrated command and control centre,” he said.

At least 100 tonnes of bleaching powder had been used during the cyclone to prevent infection. Only one resident died when a tree was uprooted at Royapettah.

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