A few months ago, the usually bumpy 4th Main Road in Thiruvanmiyur became completely unnavigable. The road turned much worse than its usual state thanks to the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s (CMWSSB) apparent quest to dig up most roads in the city.
Metro water workers removed the entire central section of the road, leaving two narrow strips on either side, seemingly only for very thin men on bicycles to pass.
Of these, the left-hand strip had at least 20 manholes. The manholes had been fixed improperly to begin with and each of these manholes has either randomly shot up above the road by many inches or sunk into the road by a few inches.
As a result of the road cut work carried out by Metro Water, driving through this road requires you to either navigate these manholes or, shift over entirely to the opposite strip. Moving to the opposite side comes with the danger of driving head-on into oncoming traffic.
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Residents’ efforts to repair damaged road in Thiruvanmiyur
I filed an RTI trying to find out the history of this road, and how it got to be this way. The RTI was filed at first to the Corporation Zonal Office in Adyar. This was back in March. Then I appealed. Then appealed again to the State Information Commission and waited.
While the interminable wait for the RTI went on, the road still remained hazardous for residents.
Residents affected by these issues banded together to initiate a signature campaign in the hopes of catching the attention of the authorities.
We had two problems to solve:
1. The manholes in one of the narrow strips
2. The central missing section
We presented the representation with thirty-four signatures in the Zonal Office in Adyar.
Much to our delight, within two days, they had the central section repaired.
But the uneven manholes still remained an issue. When we asked about this through the Namma Chennai App, the Assistant Engineer(AE) for Ward 180 replied that the entire road will be relaid in 2023 under the Nagarpura Saalai Mempaattu Thitam (NSMT) of the Tamilnadu Government.
The AE said that tender evaluation was ongoing and that when the entire road is relaid, the manhole heights will be rectified.
This reply was on 3rd June 2023.
RTI reveals information on road in Thiruvanmiyur
Over three months since the reply, the manholes have yet to be fixed. The road has not been relaid under the proposed scheme and residents continue to navigate the dangers on a daily basis.
Worse still, the central section which was repaired just three months ago is now breaking apart.
While we wait without much hope, I received the RTI response on the history of the road, a full four and a half months after the initial filing.
The RTI response had information that the 4th Main Road had been fully re-laid back in 2020, for a cost of around Rs.19 lakhs. The road work had a warranty of five years, except in case of road cuts.
Since the issue now pertains to roadcuts by Metro Water, the warranty for repairs stands void. It now has to be relaid fully a mere three years after it had been last relaid.
Meanwhile, the repair to the road cut is already falling apart.
Even before the Metrowater road cut in 2023, the uneven manholes had been a fixture on this road. Since the residents had been unaware of the terms of the warranty and do not have documented visual history of the road, we cannot ascertain if 2020 relaying actually held to its warranty conditions until the Metro Water road cuts took place.
With residents impeded from gaining this valuable information and the work already having been shoddily carried out, we will never know the answer to that question.