Residents of Kodambakkam and Mambalam to go on a token fast on August 19.

After two decades of waiting, residents of Kodambakkam and West Mambalam will soon get the much-awaited Rangarajapuram subway they have been demanding for safely crossing the suburban railway line, and for bringing down the traffic movement to some extent. But the change in usage plan of the subway has become a chink in the armour and residents have decided to take matter into their own hands before it is too late.

To discuss the measures to be taken, a special meeting of Kodambakkam and Mambalam Civic Exnora units and resident welfare associations was held on Sunday last, in which more than 45 associations’ office-bearers, committee members and residents participated.

“The subway has been a dream since early 1990s. We have been demanding that it be used both by two-wheelers and pedestrians. Now that the dream is about to become a reality, we are told it will only function as a pedestrian subway and that two-wheelers will not be allowed. In such a case, there is no need to spend public money on a subway which will be put to little use. The old Rangarajapuram railway gate would have sufficed,” said Aadinarayanan, a resident of Kodambakkam.

Addressing the gathering, Meenakshi, president, Kodambakkam Residents’ Welfare Exnora, said that she had been following the developments from the time the project got a sanction in 2010. It was during a recent visit to the site that she learnt that the subway was only meant for pedestrians. “The contractor indicated that it will be a pedestrian-only subway. When few Exnora office-bearers met the Zone 10 Corporation chairman, the news was affirmed. But residents are unhappy at this sudden turn of events. The original plan for this subway was to allow one-way traffic for two and three-wheelers with a pedestrian pathway from Kodambakkam to T. Nagar.”

Highlighting the safety issue if it is made into a pedestrian-only subway, R. Govindraj, joint secretary, Exnora International, said, “As the area is deserted most of the time, not many pedestrians would use the subway. There is also the danger of encroachers and miscreants using it.”

Anand Laxman, president, T. Nagar Exnora, said that any project that utilises public money should take into consideration public opinion and their needs. “Decisions taken by officials should be based on how best to use the facilities for the benefit of a large section of public. This subway, which was originally designed to cater to two-wheeler traffic, should be put to its designed use.”

Similar to the ones in Tambaram and Perambur, the prefabricated box type subway is meant for vehicular traffic. “When it is being put to proper use in other places, why not in Rangarajapuram subway,” asks residents, adding, “Spending Rs. 3 crores on a pedestrian-only subway is uncalled for.”

With repeated appeals to officials, including the Mayor and the Corporation Commissioner, falling on deaf ears, the residents are now planning a protest.

“We undertook a signature campaign and submitted our petition with more than 1,000 signatures from residents of Kodambakkam and Mambalam, but the campaign did not create the impact we were expecting. With the subway in its final stage of completion, we have decided to take immediate action to make our concerns heard.” said Mr. Govindraj.

The meeting has now resolved to go the Team Anna way and will be holding a one-day token fast on August 19. They have appealed to the residents of the area to take part and support the protest. The venue for the fast is yet to be finalised. The residents will also submit an appeal to the Chief Minister, asking her to intervene in the matter.

Those interested to join the fast can contact Ms. Meenakshi at 98409 58713.

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