TAMIL NADU

Busy areas strikingly bereft of buzz

A ‘FREER’ CHENNAI: Vehicular movement on arterial roads was considerably less on Thursday, as evident from the stretch of Anna Salai near Spencer’s junction, with buses and many autorickshaws staying off in view of the general strike. (Right) Buses parked at the T. Nagar terminus.

A ‘FREER’ CHENNAI: Vehicular movement on arterial roads was considerably less on Thursday, as evident from the stretch of Anna Salai near Spencer’s junction, with buses and many autorickshaws staying off in view of the general strike. (Right) Buses parked at the T. Nagar terminus.   | Photo Credit: — Photos: R. Ragu and S. S. Kumar

City Bureau

Buses off roads, driving commuters to throng trains; shops shut; hospitals receive lesser number of patients

CHENNAI: The city woke up to near-empty roads on Thursday morning, as a result of the general strike called by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to protest the killings of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The impact of the strike was severe for those dependent on the buses of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation. With no signs of buses on the roads, they had a tough time reaching their destinations, particularly workplaces on time.

“I was hoping there will be, at least, a few buses, but there are none,” said S. Rajesh, who was waiting near the Tidel Park bus stop on Thursday morning. “If there had been an announcement that buses would not operate, we would have been mentally prepared and made other arrangements,” he added.

At the Central Railway Station, a number of commuters from the suburban terminal proceeded to the bus stop outside and waited for a while, only to be delayed and look for other options. “Autorikshaw drivers demanded almost twice the regular fare and I have decided to walk up to my office on Mount Road,” said another commuter. But in some parts of the city, such as Santhome, autorickshaws were off the roads. Only a few share-autorickshaws were seen on the roads.

However, the city police stepped in and helped a few commuters by operating six vans, mostly from the Central station, to different locations. “They go to different areas such as Adyar, Anna Nagar and Tiruvottiyur,” said a policeman of the Flower Bazaar station on duty at the railway station.

The absence of bus services led to an unusual surge in the number of people using the MRTS services which had more than their average weekday crowd.

“It never gets so crowded after 10.30 in the morning. I think many who usually take buses are using the MRTS service today,” said an employee at the Thiruvanmiyur station’s ticket counter.

Free vehicular movement

Several busy localities, including Parry’s Corner, Royapuram, T. Nagar, Saidapet, in and around Vijaya Nagar in Velachery, wore a deserted look. Traffic jam-prone stretches were rather free till the evening. “It took me hardly 10 minutes to reach T.Nagar from Anna Nagar,” said S. Ganesh, a motorist.

A traffic policeman near the Lighthouse also said it was a good day for him with hardly any traffic. “I am just helping people get lifts,” he said.

Daily wagers in different areas had a hard day, since they were unable to take buses to go to the work spots. Several vendors also had trouble sourcing their supply.

Hospitals

There were fewer visitors to the government hospitals in the city. Despite its proximity to the Central station and the suburban EMU network, the Government General Hospital wore a deserted look even during the visiting hours in the evening.

There were only half-a-dozen people in the waiting lounges in its Tower blocks. Prema from Pammal said she and her husband came by his two-wheeler to the Pallavaram Railway Station to take a train to the Park station from where they walked to the hospital.

Though she left home in the morning, the admission process was completed only around 6 p.m. She said she had come for treatment for tissue growth in her throat.

Around 35 accident victims were brought to hospital. However, there was a fall in the number of admissions. Around 240 persons are admitted on an average daily, but on Thursday it was 170, hospital authorities said.

At the Government Stanley Hospital, the crowd was similar to what it received on Sundays.

The Royapettah Hospital received around 2,000 patients, instead of the usual 3,000, a staffer said.

The Kilpauk Government Hospital received less than 1,000 patients on Thursday, as against the usual 4,000. “The Diabetology Ward alone receives around 1,000 patients,” a hospital authority said. But the hospital reported fewer accident cases.

A majority of shops and restaurants remained closed till late evening.

Shops shut

Even a few shops that opened in the morning shut by 11 a.m. A few road-side eateries saw good business, thanks to the closure of restaurants.

Liquor outlets of TASMAC were also seen doing brisk business. Cinema theatres were also closed in many parts of the city.

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