The heavy showers on Monday evening left several thousand people trapped inside their respective vehicles for a few hours at Chromepet due to heavy water logging on arterial National Highway 45 – Grand Southern Trunk Road.
People spent as long as five hours struggling to cross the small stretch of a little over 4 kilometres from Tambaram Sanatorium to Pallavaram. Metropolitan Transport Corporation services went haywire, anxious relatives of commuters across all ages trapped in private and public transport were waiting with bated breaths near their homes and also along the bus stops.
Tempers ran high with people crying foul over the huge amounts of money spent on constructing a culvert (minor bridge) across GST Road opposite Chromepet police station, only to serve nothing. The GST Road at the spot opposite police station slopes from both directions – from Tambaram and from Pallavaram.
Rain water run off from Chromepet, Nagalkeni and from a few residential pockets in Tiruneermalai collects here to form a ‘reservoir’.
On Monday evening, trouble began around 7 p.m. when the stagnated water level rose to a height of more than 3 feet – nearly touching the top of the median along GST Road. With water entering the engines of cars, two-wheelers and light commercial vehicles, many of them were unable to steer towards Pallavaram in the sheets of water.
Buses of Metropolitan Transport Corporation, while managing to get past the stretch, pushed water that entered cars and motorcycles, according to residents of New Colony, Chromepet, and surrounding areas who volunteered to help many people trapped inside the vehicles.
A woman resident of Virugambakkam, who left Tambaram at 7 p.m., managed to get past Pallavaram only close to 11 p.m. New Colony residents said many women trapped inside their respective vehicles on the ramps of the road over bridge at MIT Gate, walked down and asked for help from the local residents to use their toilets.
Drivers of Metropolitan Transport Corporation, buses too were exhausted and so were commuters travelling in them from Guduvanchery and Tambaram towards Guindy, who spent a harrowing six hours inside the buses. With water all around the bus, commuters did not have the courage to get down, they said. The problem was restricted only around the minor bridge and water logging was more than a decade old. It was only a couple of years ago that more than Rs. 1 crore was spent on completing them.
The State Highways Department and the National Highways Authority of India along with the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply and even the Southern Railway too should take the blame for the ordeal thousands of people suffered on Monday evening. “It is such a shame that a simple task of transporting rain water across an arterial road and also across the railway lines has not been attended to by the government agencies concerned,” a New Colony resident said. The
y are contemplating to the streets to highlight the consistent failure of the agencies in addressing this pressing problem.