Staff Reporter

"There is a lack of political will to improve the situation"

CHENNAI: Traffic chaos of north Chennai, starting from NSC Bose Road and Mint Street in Park Town, extends up to Manali, affecting Beach Road, Royapuram and Kasimedu.

Manali has a number of hazardous chemical and other industrial units and during an emergency there is a likelihood of losing precious time in evacuating people from affected areas. Also, the poor response to continued appeals from residents seems to suggest that there is a lack of political will to improve the situation, say north Chennai representatives of Exnora International.

Participating in a meet organised by Exnora in its T.Nagar office on Tuesday to discuss north Chennai's civic problems, organisers of the NGO and residents' representatives noted that many projects that were planned for north Chennai had not taken off. The road margins are encroached upon; railway foot over bridges and flyovers planned at key points remain incomplete.

Work on a bridge sanctioned for Vyasarpadi is yet to begin. The delay in building the bridge is creating traffic blocks making people wait for over an hour to cross Basin Bridge. Harbour, the entry point to the city, is inaccessible because container lorries are parked on the connecting Ring Road.

Adding to the woes of road users are encroachments, which include roadside mechanic shops who repair anything from tyres to tankers carrying chemicals from the industrial belt in Manali. During emergency drills conducted under the supervision of the collector in various industries that dot the stretch, the Government ensures that the roads are cleared of traffic. But on an ordinary day, it takes 45 minutes to navigate a 5 km stretch, note residents. In case of accidents the roads cannot be cleared that easily, they point out. Precious time will be lost in transporting the injured to Government hospitals, say residents. Pollution levels are high. It is not just industrial pollution but garbage from Tiruvottriyur Municipality continues to be burnt in the dumping yard. Residents say the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited has been dumping waste in its backyard creating a health hazard. During rain chemical leaching from the waste contaminates groundwater. In other seasons, the dumpster pollutes the atmosphere, residents say.