Downtown

Road to self-reliance?

Residents of Thirumullavoyal at work on Pachaiamman Koil Main Road. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Like any other child, 12-year-old R. Ashwin, a resident of Venkatachalam Nagar in Thirumullavoyal, used to spend his Sundays playing cricket with his friends in the neighbourhood and visiting his best friend’s house for refreshments at the end of the game.

But, Ashwin and friends gave up cricket one Sunday (September 18) and instead, spent the day on a 1.5km-long Pachaiamman Koil Main Road, which connects the Chennai-Tiruvallur High (CTH) Road with the northern parts of Thirumullaivoyal adjoining the Puzhal lake.

The reason: they were involved in the work of providing drinking water to the residents, busy laying the rain-battered and pothole-ridden stretch that connects several neighbourhoods with the rest of the city at three points — Anna Nagar, Retteri and Maduravoyal.

“With many representations to the Avadi Municipality proving futile, we decided to ‘repair’ the road, laying construction debris to cover the potholes.

“We took this decision as many schoolchildren and elders have been injured walking down this battered road. Due to this stretch, vehicles of all types suffer damages,” said Giri Ravanan, secretary, Vekatachalam Nagar Residents Welfare Association.

More than 200 residents across age groups, including schoolchildren and retired government staff from areas such as Velammal New Town, Kamalam Nagar and Masilamanieshwar Nagar were a part of the initiative. Divided into five teams, each consisting of at least six residents, they took care of specific tasks on that day.

One team had to go in search of additional construction debris to cover the 1.5-km stretch.

Another team was entrusted with the job of managing traffic on the stretch, because, though Sunday was a holiday, the area was witnessing a flow of devotees to a few ancient temples; and residents in the adjoining areas were travelling to reach either the CTH Road or the Grand Northern Trunk (GNT) Road in Red Hills.

Other teams were loading construction debris from the source point and unloading them on the stretch at specific points. They also took care of logistic works such as arranging vehicles and refreshments for residents.

“We started work around 6 a.m. as the traffic at that hour is thin, skipping our morning walk. We completed the entire work around 8 p.m., all thanks to a large team of dedicated residents, both young and old,” said Franco, president, Kamalam Nagar and Masilamanieshwar Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association.

Tracing the roots of the initiative, the associations had a joint meeting a month ago and took a decision to ‘lay’ the road themselves. Subsequently, all kinds of help poured in. A portion of the expenses for engaging lorries was borne by an owner of the lorry service, who is also a resident, and the rest was shared by other residents.

The Thirumullavoyal police too did not object to the initiative of road-laying, which as per norms should have been done by the authorities, because the police too would benefit from the initiative as their patrol vehicles often get damaged plying on the stretch.

After successful laying of the stretch, the residents now plan to bring in more civic amenities such as a public library, a police booth, a playground, a children’s park, better streetlights and steel barricades to prevent sand-laden lorries from using the main road.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 3:15:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/Road-to-self-reliance/article16078780.ece

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