For several years now, residents of Ezhil Nagar and its neighbourhood, to avoid a detour, have risked walking on railway tracks across north Buckingham canal to reach Nehru Nagar and other parts of north Chennai.

What is hardly a 100-feet distance across the north Buckingham canal translates to a nearly two km ride on Tondiarpet Road. In a few months, residents can avoid the arduous and hazardous routes as the Water Resources Department (WRD) is all set to construct two single-lane bridges across the canal.

K. Babu, a resident of Ezhil Nagar, said people of areas such as Ezhil Nagar A and B Blocks, Satya Nagar and MGR Nagar found it easier to walk on the tracks over the rail bridge to reach Nehru Nagar. However, many of them have recently stopped taking the tracks as they fear being fined by the railway police. The only other option is to wait amidst heavy traffic on Tondiarpet Road for at least an hour to pass two level crossings in Nehru Nagar and Ezhil Nagar.

School children walk the 2 km distance to avoid waiting in traffic and then board a bus from Korukkupet, he added.

Residents said the proposed bridge would help them reach the Vaidyanathan bridge in Tondiarpet in 15 minutes. A. Ramesh, another resident of Ezhil Nagar, said the WRD must ensure the bridge is wide enough for ambulances to move through. “We could travel to Tiruvottiyur, Ennore or Tondiarpet through the bridge and Nehru Nagar Street,” he said.

Officials of the WRD said the 32-metre-long and 2.5-metre-wide bridge would be constructed across the canal at a cost of Rs. 70 lakh under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The delay in obtaining sanction for the revised detailed project report from the Central government had pushed the project deadline to this year-end, they said.

The residents of fishing hamlets in Ennore too would soon be benefitted from a 40-metre-long and 2.5-metre-wide bridge across the Buckingham canal along Kattukuppam and Kadavukarangkuppam. Residents of fishing hamlets said they currently use a temporary wooden bridge to reach the backwaters of Ennore creek for fishing. Whenever the wooden structure gets damaged or is submerged during rains, they are unable to earn their livelihood. The new bridge worth Rs. 1 crore would help them carry fishing materials across, they said.

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