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What is the way out for Royapuram?

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Sandhya Soman

Plethora of problems plagues residents

Continuous movement of container trailers heading in and out of Chennai Port irks residentsConstruction of a 120-crore express highway from Zero Gate to Ennore in a year: JayakumarVoter strength: 1.37 lakh; Polling booths: 133 Focal issues: Traffic bottlenecks, pending projects

CHENNAI: They have rail, road and a port. But Royapuram residents say they are still boxed in by an underused railway station and a road network jammed with vehicles ranging from container trailers to cycle rickshaws.

Goods yard

"Royapuram railway station, the first in South India, was renovated fully in 2005. Instead of running more trains, authorities are now proposing to shift the goods yard from Salt Cotaurs to Royapuram," says resident AVS Marimuthu.

According to him, once the yard is brought in, there would be more vehicles to transport the load"Traffic will increase," he says.

Another issue that plagues the residents is the continuous movement of huge container trailers heading in and out of Chennai Port.

M. Kalappan asks why should the trailers jam every other road when there is a pending proposal to create a single entry/exit point for them at the main entrance (Zero Gate) near the Kasimedu Harbour.

"Authorities should have ensured that this proposal was in place before the cargo handling operations went up. It would have decongested most roads, especially SN Chetti Street. Now we can't even take out our vehicles," says Mr. Kalappan, who lives on Flagstaff Street.

Ultimately, it is the road network that takes the brunt of the load.

Rail underbridge

Textile merchant M. Mohammed Basheer points out that there is no dearth of proposals and projects to help people travel to other parts of the city smoothly.

"In the 2001 elections, all candidates promised to complete the rail under bridge so traffic will not be held up near the Stanley Hospital. If it was in place by now, the congestion in that area would have eased a little," says Mr. Basheer.

According to him, the Centre-State blame game delayed the project.

The same fate, according to Mr. Kalappan, held up the proposal to contain container trailer traffic.

According to Mr. Marimuthu, who is also the convenor of a federation of North Chennai welfare associations, running more trains from Royapuram could solve a number of traffic bottlenecks.

"The station has space and provision to have access roads. The authorities could at least also start some south-bound passenger trains from here instead of Egmore," he adds.

What contestants say:

According to sitting MLA D. Jayakumar of AIADMK three years ago the State Government had made a Rs. 9.5 crore provision for the pending rail underbridge and send the proposal to the Railways. "Now they have to give approval."

DMK candidate SP Sargunapandian says the "Railways has already given money. State Government did nothing to finish the project."

When it comes to containing container trailer traffic, both contestants say that it will be done soon.

Ms. Sargunapandian talks about widening the road inside Harbour in consultation with the port authorities and the Centre while minister Jayakumar speaks about finishing the construction of a 120-crore express highway from Zero Gate to Ennore in a year. "A Rs. 20 crore road inside the port will also be laid so trailers can enter and exit through Zero Gate."

As far as Royapuram railway station is concerned, both of them are for running more passenger trains from the station.

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