LIFE

Sharing views on the move

CHENNAI MAY well have the dubious distinction of a city not fit for rains. Though "pucca drainage" exists on many roads, the structures are a mute witness to people's sufferings in knee-deep water.

Ask the authorities why storm water drains have been rendered useless, pat comes the reasons... clogging of the drains by garbage and encroachments on the channels, which are supposed to convey rainwater to the sea. "Be it the fault of the citizens or officials, should not the rulers step in to save the people?" asks a fellow traveller in a share autorickshaw engaged from Collector Nagar in Mogappair to T. Nagar.

As the vehicle crosses the more than knee-deep water near the Tirumangalam junction, it bumps into the invisible pothole beneath the water-spread, throwing the passengers from their seats. Even before the travellers including a couple of women can resume their seats, comes a splash of floodwaters inside the three-wheeler, thanks to a passing MTC bus. For the bus driver, the potholes and craters are obstructions to be taken care of by the civic authorities and maintenance of the vehicle is not his concern. Their enthusiasm not dampened, the travellers continue the heated debate, even as one of them warns an innocent cyclist not to venture to the extreme left side of the road.

"What are the councillors doing?" asks a woman co-passenger, who is blissfully ignorant of the `performance' of the people's representatives during civic bodies' meetings. "You must think about this during the elections," an elderly person remarks, supported by the driver. A traveller is sore that the people have not benefited by democracy. "We need a dictator who wields the whip and extracts work," he declares, with the others raising their voice of approval. "How many people know their representatives in the local bodies and the Legislative Assembly?" the driver asks, sporting a smile.

Breaking his silence, one passenger is sore that there is no dearth of engineering talent in the country. But he wonders whether the "qualified planners" know how floodwaters should be channelled to the sea. "They know, but they do not do the work properly for obvious reasons," comes a reply from a corner of the autorickshaw. "There is no public debate on these issues... "

Even as the debate is on, a new car sporting a `G' symbol on the number plate and with the window panes completely rolled up, wades through the stagnant water and crosses the three-wheeler even as the travellers wonder whether "public servants" do really serve society.

By K.T. Sangameswaran

Illustration by Varghese Kallada

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