Madurai’s boast is that it is the second biggest city in Tamil Nadu, after Chennai. Yet civic infrastructure in this ancient city is sorely lacking on many fronts.
One of the major gripes of the residents is that roads dug for one reason or other are not re-laid after the work is over. In the early hours of Wednesday, a cow fell into a four-foot deep pit dug months ago by the Corporation near a park on the LIG East Road in Anna Nagar. The pit was dug to check a water pipeline.
“Rainwater had filled the pit. I informed the Anna Nagar police, the help desk at the Collector’s office and the fire brigade. Though the animal was saved, it suffered injuries to its legs,” advocate S. Muthukumar, a resident of Anna Nagar, said. Recalling another incident, Mr. Muthukumar said two months ago a girl, who was returning home after attending evening tuition, fell into the same pit.
Owing to power cut, the streetlights were not burning at the time. The Corporation authorities were told to fill the pits around the park umpteen times but to no avail, he said.
When contacted, an Assistant Engineer (AE) in the Madurai Corporation said, while the number of wards had increased from 72 to 100, the number of supervisory personnel had not been proportionately increased. Earlier, an AE was entrusted with three wards. Now he has to oversee eight wards, he claimed.
About nine months ago, the Corporation laid the Bharathi Store junction to P and T Nagar stretch of Old Natham Road. Now this stretch poses a stretch to motorists and pedestrians as dug-up pits have not been closed, Nagarajan, a resident, said. Some builders have dumped their construction material and debris in front of their premises on this road, reducing the carriage space by half.
Another area with unfilled pits and construction materials dumped on the roadside is DRO Colony. “One does not know whether these builders had obtained permission to occupy public space,” Uma, a resident of DRO Colony Main Road, said.
Said a senior executive working for a private telecom firm, “Prior to digging a road for cable laying, we get permission from the authorities. Only after remitting the cost projected for re-laying the road, the Corporation gives approval for the work. When this is the case, the public blames us for not filling the trenches after the work is over,” he said.
A retired TWAD official said the authorities should put up signboards to caution road users about the pits. Moreover, the public should be informed through display boards about the nature of the work undertaken by any agency and the timeframe for completing it, he suggested.