Madurai

Silent, scary night on total lockdown Sunday

This intersection of four-lane highway and Theni highway near Nagamalai Pudukottai is pitch dark at night as there are no street lights, leave alone high-mast lamps.

This intersection of four-lane highway and Theni highway near Nagamalai Pudukottai is pitch dark at night as there are no street lights, leave alone high-mast lamps.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Under the lockdown conditions, most of the roads in the city and highways in suburban areas are deserted. This is more pronounced on Saturday and Sunday nights due to the total lockdown being implemented on Sundays.

Since most of the commercial establishments and shops choose to switch off lights, including that of their name boards, as an austerity measure, the roads become unusually darker. When the street lights are not switched on or go out of order, night ride becomes scarier. But for the police checkposts on the entry to the city on all sides and a few policemen at important junctions, the city and its suburbs are deathly silent and eerie. Not even a single person could be seen even after travelling for a few km in the city and suburbs.

The police can take the credit for preventing people from travelling unnecessarily in these times of COVID-19 surge. However, those forced to travel at night for emergency situations face the threat from bike-borne thieves who can easily waylay people, making use of the deserted roads and darkness, especially at a time when lockdown has rendered many youths are jobless for months.

Commissioner of Police Prem Anand Sinha said that all five patrol vehicles of the city are moving across the city even during night. This is besides the night round officers covering the length and breadth of the city.

Stating that the city has witnessed some untoward incidents in Koodal Pudur area, Mr. Sinha said focus during night was in Koodal Pudur, Anna Nagar and Avaniapuram police station limits.

“All the 14 checks-posts are more active these days and unnecessary movement of vehicles at night is contained to a large extent,” he added.

Milkmen, farmers and traders start to hit the roads in the early hours of Mondays to sell or buy essential goods from the suburban areas to the city and they could become easy targets for armed robbers.

However, Superintendent of Police Sujit Kumar said highway patrols ensured safety on highways. Though the district has not reported any specific trouble during night, Mr. Sujit Kumar said that people should alert the police whenever they find any suspicious people lurking under the cover of darkness. “Within minutes our patrol teams will reach the spot. We have 15 Madurai Kavalan two-wheeler patrol teams securing the rural roads,” he said.

Virattipathu-Achampathu-Nagamalai Pudukottai stretch of Theni highway beyond the Fenner Colony police check-post is the scariest of the lot in the late night hours. No road has so many deep curves and blind spots for drivers. Pitch black darkness is there at the junction where Kanniyakumari-Srinagar four-lane highway flies over Theni highway.

K. Sivakumar, a driver, who need to drop employees in the late night hours, said it is scary when returning alone to the city from Nagamalai Pudukottai as he has seen bike-borne men waiting in the dark oppositePulloothu road along Nilayur Channel and again near the ‘L’ curve on the Pudukulam road where vehicles need to slow down.

The junction that comes within the NHAI jurisdiction lacks a high-mast lamp at this big intersection all these years leaving it under total darkness everywhere around the bridge. A NHAI official said that it could install a high-mast light provided the local body came forward to maintain it and foot the power bill.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 11:06:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/silent-scary-night-on-total-lockdown-sunday/article32297768.ece

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