The road, part of IT Corridor, has been both a bane and a boon to residents of several adjoining villages

When the first three km of Rajiv Gandhi Salai from Madhya Kailash junction to TIDEL Park was opened to six-lane traffic with art work on the side, lush medians, modern bus shelters and service lanes, many people just loved to drive on the stretch.

But the love for the road stopped just there. With contractors dragging their feet on completing construction of service lanes and footpaths, and only four out of the six lanes being available for vehicles, traffic snarls and accidents are not uncommon on this corridor that was designed for high speed. The last two lanes are used to dump mud and as work site.

The 20-km road, which forms part of the IT Corridor, has been both a bane and a boon to residents of the several villages that lie alongside. The 50-odd IT companies and the road have helped develop posh hotels and restaurants, and residential apartments and thereby, the entire area. However, on the flip side, the increase in the road height has led to water stagnation in several residential areas. Last year boats were said to have been used in some of the IT companies too for employees to get into the main facility.

Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority sources said cross drains that have been constructed across the road would take rainwater and discharge it either into the Pallikaranai marsh or the Buckingham Canal. “There were some defects in the design of the stormwater drain. Now that is being rectified.”

Accident-prone?

Another problem is the large number of road accidents. R. Anandan, President, Rajiv Gandhi Salai All Lorry Owners Welfare Association, said the road witnessed 3 or 4 accidents every day.

“The mud on the road side, vehicles coming on the wrong direction and reckless road-crossing are main causes. The foot overbridges are not used by many. The breaks in the median are few and far apart forcing many to ride on the wrong side. A toll gate in such a busy area was a wrong idea.”

To reduce accidents, the traffic police are taking steps to regulate vehicular movement and ensure smooth flow of traffic.

M. Ravi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), said that about 60,000 vehicles take Madhya Kailash junction daily and about 93,000 vehicles the Thiruvanmiyur junction.

“More police personnel have been deployed on important traffic intersections between Madhya Kailash and Semmencheri. Over 150 barricades with fluorescent tapes would be put to use on the road. We are also studying the feasibility of increasing traffic signals on the stretch, he said.

On the up side, rental value along the road has shot up and almost tripled in the past 2 or 3 years.

According to G. Mohan, Adviser, Chennai Suburban Builders Association, a double bedroom flat that used to be available for Rs.4,000 a month is now let out for Rs.12,000.

This dedicated IT zone employs over 1.50 lakh persons, who use 8,000 buses and 19,000 cars to commute. “With Siruseri and Elcot IT parks getting populated, we expect the number to soar by another 25 per cent,” said K.Purushothaman, Regional Director, National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM).

Property

A large number of housing projects have mushroomed to facilitate the burgeoning population.

Mehul Doshi, director of Doshi Housing, said land availability and proximity to the city attracted many construction firms. “The development has become intense in the last five years. Property up to Sholinganallur costs Rs.10 crore -Rs.12 crore per acre. However, infrastructure development has not matched the pace of construction,” he said.

Water supply and sewage clearance are two issues that are yet to be resolved. As IT companies and many residential areas do not have proper water supply or sewer lines, over 500 lorries are involved in water supply and clearing of sewage.

According to Chennai Metrowater officials, the agency has completed the laying of water distribution pipeline and sewage collection network on the eastern side of the road for 17 kms up to Siruseri. Tenders have been called for construction of sewage pumping stations on 14 locations. Pipeline laying work would be completed by March 2011. NASSCOM has urged the State government to step in and speed up the completion of the road. “We ask that the Deputy Chief Minister M. K. Stalin to show personal interest in the project.” said Mr.Purushothaman.

Abdul Razak Mohamed of the School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, said “the road was laid in an urgent manner and drainage has not been integrated. Completion of the works as soon as possible is the only solution.”

Sources in the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company, which manages the road, said that efforts were being made to complete the work as soon as possible. “The road has attracted a lot of investments in terms of IT companies and housing complexes. We also have three ambulances and a tow-away vehicle to help persons and vehicles in distress'', the official said. “We are also taking steps to reduce accidents and traffic congestions with the construction of flyovers at five junctions,” the official said.

What they say

Sunil Paliwal, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Road Development Company:

There was a change of design as far as stormwater drains were concerned, which has caused the delay in completion of the work.

We have asked the contractor to speed up construction of the service roads and footpaths.

We have also had discussions with the Traffic police to improve vehicular flow. There has been a huge increase in the number of vehicles using the road. Five flyovers would be constructed on the road to reduce traffic congestion.

K.Ekambaram, President, Okkiam Thoraipakkam Village Panchayat:

“The road has only been a bane as far as residents of local bodies alongside are concerned. Even though six lanes have been laid, only four can be used as mud is piled on the last two lanes. There is no space for pedestrians. After TNRDC raised the height of the road, it has only led to water stagnation in several areas during the monsoon. They went back on their word to construct stormwater drains for residential areas.”

Suchetha Kumaradev, resident of Raju Nagar in Thoraipakkam:

“Over the years commuting to the city has become easier with many bus services being introduced to areas including Koyambedu, Parry’s Corner, Guindy, Saidapet, T.Nagar and Tambaram. However, there are not many ordinary fare buses for people, who cannot afford deluxe services and settlements like Kannagi Nagar and Semmanchery Housing Boards need more buses. With vehicles whizzing by at high speed, many people find it difficult to walk along the road as there are no footpaths.”