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Driving around Chennai for a few hours and inquiring with residents shows that Chennai Corporation seems to have given up on the practice of patching roads and performing small road repairs. Either the roads were in bad condition due to rains or natural degradation. Pits dug by various agencies only made the problem worse.
The road contracts being given out seem to be focused only laying or relaying of roads. So what happens in between these bigger road contracts? Who suffers? Meanwhile, the government has announced mega road projects for thousands of crores of rupees, but residents wonder why bad roads can’t be repaired with patchwork so frequent accidents due to bad roads can be stopped.
On 6th Main Road, Ram Nagar in Velachery, for instance, the surface of the road at a junction had come off making it difficult for vehicles to pass through. A vegetable vendor said the potholes have been there for six months. Deep puddles form if it rains. No repair work has been taken up here, he said.
When it rained, much water got collected in the valleys, says John who was passing by. “Chennai Corporation officials inspected the area and decided to fill up the road with cement. Within one month, however, the cement fillings got broken up and the condition went back to what they were,” he said.
Vasanthi, who was on a cycle, stopped and chatted with this reporter. “They dug up the side of the road to lay some pipes. They dug up the central part of the road also for some other work. But the pits were not filled up properly. Since then, this is how this area has been,” she said.
The side of a street in Vijaya Street, adjacent to Ram Nagar had a similar problem. Water had got collected there. The middle of the road had been dug up for Metrowater work. Vehicles were wading through the potholes, valleys and Metrowater hole, and dodging them and keeping safe.
Vaidyanathan, who was standing near a bunk shop, said this has been the condition for nearly five months. A resident of this area, he said many had slipped and fallen here. He said the local corporation councillor lived on the same street, yet the condition was bad. Metrowater had dug up the roads here to provide water connection to households. But the holes were not filled up, he said.
In Ward 178 of Chennai Corporation, auto drivers said accidents were common on Vijaya Nagar First Main Road. At the junction of First Main Road and First Street, there was a steep slope, followed by a porthole and then a climb up. A hole dug for a sewage canal did not have a proper lid. And it was bang on the middle of the road. Two-wheelers that take a turn sometimes get stuck there and accidents have happened, say auto drivers.
Panneerselvam, an auto driver, says that for two years now nearly every day someone slips and falls on Vijaya Nagar link road. When big vehicles go here, two-wheelers get crunched up and meet with accidents. “We have asked officials to set this right many times. If someone gets hurt, then officials come and visit the spot. And we plead with them. But nothing has happened to solve the problem,” he says.
Guindy-KK Nagar Alagirisamy Salai was in such a sorry sight that it couldn’t be called a road. A water pipe was under repair. The holes dug here have made the road unusable. Someone had bunched together stones and rags as a warning sign to motorists that there was an open pit due to sewage work there
At Venkateshwara Nagar in Velachery, there was no road, just gravel. A tea shop owner on the street said she has not seen a road being laid here for 10 years. “Since water stagnates here during rains, motorists often fall and get hurt. If they lay a proper road, accidents can be prevented,” she said.
On the main road from Venkateshwara Nagar to Guindy, a three feet deep channel, two feet wide had been dug for pipeline work. The channel was there for a significant length of the road. A youth with a two-wheeler who was sipping tea at a tea shop said at night many motorists slip and fall into the channel, hurting themselves.
Guindy-KK Nagar Alagirisamy Salai was in such a sorry sight that it couldn’t be called a road. A water pipe was under repair. The holes dug here have made the road unusable. Someone had bunched together stones and rags as a warning sign to motorists that there was an open pit due to sewage work there. An auto driver said the local ward councillor did not live far from there but that didn’t seem to make a difference. The auto driver says things have been this way for five months.
At Valasaravakkam, near actor Nasser’s house, even pedestrians couldn’t walk on the street. A tailor who has a shop on the street said that he set up shop nearly a year and half ago. No road had been laid here in that time, he said. “I regularly see motorists slipping, falling and getting scratched and bruised. Nasser and other celebrities live here and they drive around here on their cars. But no one seems to care,” he said.
On the main road in Valasaravakkam Chowdhury Nagar, a long pit had been dug by some agency. Barricades cordon off that pit. Two-wheelers, cars and big lorries use this road. The pit dug to lay a pipeline is a trap for even big buses. College buses that ply on this road get into trouble, says Sekar who runs an automobile shop.
At the East Kamakoti Nagar in Guindy too, the story was not very different. Residents said no work has happened to set right the condition for nearly six months. Azhvar Thirunagar, Valluvar Kottam Water Tank areas are in the same situation.
A quick recce of areas further north such as Choolaimedu, Vannarapettai and Puliyanthope shows that no road repair work by Chennai Corporation has happened for six months to two years on many of the roads that were in bad condition. Accidents were common because of this.
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