Did you know Chennai has a sorrowful Berlin Wall?

The wall that splits Thillai Ganga Nagar.

Chennai: You would have studied in history books about the infamous Berlin Wall which turned out to be the agony for thousands of people, depriving them of an opportunity to lead a peaceful life.

Though it has been demolished now, its memories still haunt many. But if you think there are no more such structures, you might be wrong.

Even in Namma Chennai, there is a 'Berlin Wall' haunting people for over a decade now. This is the State Highways Department's elevated wall at the junction of Inner Ring Road and Thillai Ganga Nagar 27th Street.

Built in 2008 to elevate Inner Ring Road from Adambakkam lake, it, literally, split Thillai Ganga Nagar into half, completely blocking the access of not only people but also flood waters in the western parts of the locality to the lake on the eastern side.

The elevated wall is so high that at some places it towers more than 10 feet. Almost all ground floors of houses adjoining the wall are hidden by it. While residents have got used to the big structure blocking their way, what they can't bear is the agony it causes during the rainy season by flooding the neighbourhood.

The deep pit that has been dug and abandoned.

Speaking to News Today, Krishnamurthy, who resides close to the wall on Thillai Ganga Nagar 27th Street, said, "While building this wall and the adjoining highway, around a decade ago, workers placed a large flood drain canal on all the streets intersected by the road. But, unfortunately, they didn't place the canal on 27th Street where we live. So, we immediately informed the matter to the present MP, R S Bharathi. He inspected the spot and requested us to wait till the highway work gets completed so that a fresh proposal can be made to place a canal on our street. But that never happened."

Another resident of the same street, Varadarajan, put their sufferings it in lucid terms.

"While we managed to survive the monsoon for many years since then, the brutal floods of 2015 made us suffer the most. Water rose as high as five feet inside all the houses on our street, destroying all our household properties. We suffered losses in lakhs. Had this wall not been there, or at least if the canal had been in place, we won't worry about even heavy rain as we reside very close to Adambakkam lake which can absorb enormous amounts of water.

"Even in 2015, water entered our house twice. Before we could recover from that, Vardah cyclone brought back the sorrow in 2016, with water entering our houses for the third consecutive time. Just two hours of continuous showers is enough to flood our street," was his lament.

According to Krishnamurthy, after running from pillar to post, a solution almost seemed to be in sight but not completely.

"After countless petitions to the State Highways Department, Alandur MLA and assistant engineers, work on laying a canal finally began 12 August. But it took place just for a day. A portion of the road near the wall was dug up and abandoned. Now this big pit has increased our woes. It's left open and if anyone using the pavement is not careful, s/he might land in it. The stone blocks placed around the pit on the road creates traffic snarls on a daily basis. As the highway has become narrow, vehicles line up up to Vanuvampet junction during peak hours," he said.

Traffic gets held up during peak hours.

"For some days, traffic was regulated by the police but now even they are not present and the entire place has become chaotic. We humbly request the authorities to complete the work before the monsoon breaks. We want the wall brought down and another reconstructed with effective passage of rainwater from our street to Adambakkam lake as also a canal," he added.

Greater Chennai Corporation assistant executive engineer Geetha, assigned to oversee the work, said, "We have obtained all the required permissions but the traffic police are yet to give their approval as they say it's impossible to completely stop traffic on the highway for days. They want the work to be done in three segments so that vehicles can use the road even if work is going on. So, the State Highways Department is currently in the process of reviewing that proposal."

BAD IN GOOD

The Inner Ring Road in itself is not an elevated highway like the Outer Ring Road. But as it had crosses Adambakkam lake on way to Velacheri MRTS railway station, the officials were forced to elevate it to preserve the waterbody. But, unfortunately, 27th Street alone was deprived of a proper flood drain to the lake, leading to the entire street flooding in 2015 and 2016. With the current situation, the street is likely to flood even this year if it rains heavily.

ENCROACHMENT WOES

According to residents of the neighbourhood, who wished to remain anonymous, most shops built close to the elevated wall of the highway don't have proper documents. Many of them have been built on encroached land close to the highway. The residents request the officials to demolish all these structures like how they did recently in places surrounding Adambakkam lake.


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