Roads that connect emerging localities in the southern suburbs need attention, says K. Manikandan
One gripe cuts across the city’s southern suburbs: it is the disenchantment over the poor quality of roads, especially those branching off from arterial stretches and going deep into semi-rural pockets. Roads around Tambaram – such as the Agaram Main Road that passes through Agaramthen Village and branches off at various places to link Mappedu and Madambakkam as well as Kandigai (on Vandalur-Kelambakkam Road) – are an eyesore.
With no improvement in the condition of the Agaram Main Road, even after a decade, many residents have given up on their desire to own a motorcycle. “We have lost our patience. Vting against ruling parties during the Assembly elections or in favour of some other parties in local body polls has not helped,” said Vijaya Suresh, a homemaker.
Unlike in areas within Corporation limits, different agencies are responsible for maintenance of roads and streets in far-flung suburbs.
They include municipalities and town and village panchayats as well as the State Highways Department and the multiple wings within it.
Many of these roads are in poor condition for years, because of an uncertainty among these agencies about whose jurisdiction they come under. Some of the worst roads are in the village panchayats, with neither these rural local bodies nor their supervisory bodies (the Panchayat Unions) possessing the financial strength to improve them.
Pozhichalur, Gowl Bazaar, Agaramthen, Medavakkam, Moovarasampettai and Nanmangalam are among village panchayats that have the most severely damaged roads. “The Transport Department, probably justifiably, blames the condition of these roads for stopping bus services. And some government departments do not get permission for carrying out improvement works citing archaic rules,” said M. Parameshwaran of Meenambakkam. In the absence of public transport, families spend large sums travelling in rickety, overcrowded and unsafe autos and mini vans.
Civic groups have for long been demanding the creation of an asphalt plant that could enable patchworks on damaged roads in semi-rural belts. Some have engaged in open confrontation with contractors, elected representatives and administrators for shoddy road-laying work, one that throws norms to the wind and uses inferior construction material.
Bringing a common agency for the maintenance or roads and streets and ensuring 100 per cent utilisation of funds will ensure these roads are motorable and safe. Given certain initiatives in the past, residents believe this is possible. Some years ago, an elected representative installed an information board about the component of the work for creating a cement concrete road surface in Chrompet, which was widely welcomed.
Recently, a well-paved road with adequate illumination has been created in Shankar Nagar, Pammal Municipality. Transparency and people’s role in monitoring road works could ensure their longevity, say residents.