Nathamadipatti residents have to either trek or pedal to Ponmalaipatti

Despite being one of the rapidly growing areas in the city over the past couple of decades, thousands of residents in colonies beyond Ponmalaipatti still do not have proper access to public transport.

Residents at Ponneripuram, Chekkadi, Mullai Nagar, Adaikala Annai Nagar, Thiru Nagar, Thiru Nagar Extension, Anthony Nagar, Ganesh Nagar, Nathamadipatti and Keezhakurichi have to trek long distances every day to board a bus at Ponmalaipatti or at Armoury Gate at Golden Rock.

Thiru Nagar is said to be among one of the earliest residential layouts approved in Tiruchi district in the 1980s while the other colonies have mushroomed over the past 10 to 20 years.

All these areas are served by a lone government bus that operates on the Chathram Bus Stand-Nathamadipatti route via Armoury Gate in Golden Rock. A private bus service operating on the route since 1982 has been discontinued. The lone government bus has been operating since 1990, hardly meeting the requirement of the people of the area.

With a slew of schools located in different parts of the locality, students have to depend on bicycles or go on foot to school.

Office-goers have to pedal up to Ponmalaipatti and leave the bicycles on the road sides near the bus stop and continue their commute to the city by buses. A large number of construction workers from neighbouring villages commute from Ponneripuram to the city every day.

In the absence of bus service, chain snatching incidents are frequent as women have to walk back to their homes from Ponmalaipatti at night, says N. Muthuraman, a resident of Ponneripuram.

Patients and pregnant women visiting the well-patronised Keezhakurichi Primary Health Centre are at the mercy of autorickshaws or trek all the way.

“It is a mystery why bus services are not operated to our areas. We have conducted signature campaigns and submitted representations to the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, the Collector, the MLA, the MP and even the Chief Minister’s Special Cell. Yet, there has been no action so far,” he says.

The residents demand that buses operating to Ponmalaipatti be extended up to Ponneripuram/Nathamadipatti, a distance of just about 4.2 km. They point out that there was no proper bus stop at Ponmalaipatti and what serves as terminus for the bus stand that belonged to the Railways.

A proper bus terminus could be created at Keezhakurichi/Nathamadipatti if only the Ponmalaipatti buses are extended.

The government could at least consider introducing mini-bus and share-autorickshaw services to meet the requirements of the people, says K.C. Neelamegam, State Advisor, Makkal Sakthi Iyakkam.

TNSTC officials, the residents say, cite the narrow road beyond Ponmalaippatti as the reason for not operating the buses. However, they reject the contention saying that the road is about 3.75 metres wide and lorries ply on on the road. The road could also be widened if encroachments were removed.

A TNSTC official said that he had already conducted a survey on the route a few days back and steps were being taken to extend buses running up to Ponmalaipatti.