Yet another eye opener on the challenges that lie ahead vis a vis growing demands and inadequate infrastructure - this was how a number of concerned residents summed up the 2014 summer tourist season which is nearing its end in this vacation destination.
The consensus was that though, as usual, fairs and festivals marked the season, the most striking feature was the glaring shortcomings on the infrastructure front and the poor maintenance of basic amenities such as roads. They led to frequent traffic snarls and congestion.
With there being a considerable increase in the inflow of tourists by cars, the focus of the traffic police was only on keeping the vehicles moving. Consequently, quite often, motorists had to travel over several kilometres to reach destinations which were just a few hundred metres away.
As expected, this season also pedestrians were forced to compete with vehicles for space on the roads as many of the footpaths were not only in a bad shape but also encroached upon by the roadside shops and pavement hawkers.
The conduct of the Lok Sabha elections forced the re-scheduling of dates of various season related events. However, they went off without a hitch.
The failure to introduce a summer special on the renowned Nilgiri Mountain Railway despite a demand was a major disappointment. Barring distribution problems in some areas, water supply was satisfactory here and timely rain provided considerable relief to the water-starved residents of Coonoor.
Stray animals added to the chaotic conditions on the roads.
Emphasising the need to check the trend, secretary, Coonoor Citizens Forum, Rajesh Kumar James, lamented that Ooty was now beset with ecological and environment problems and resembled a ‘glorified slum’.
Pointing out that alarm bells are ringing vis a vis the ability of the place to continue attracting tourists who can make a difference to its economy, he wondered when steps would be taken to stem the rot.
Long-time residents lamented that civic problems such as damaged roads and overflowing sewage even in crowded areas like the Garden road and Charing Cross remain unattended.
Municipal sources said that owing to the model code of conduct repair works could not be taken up this summer.