TAMIL NADU

Vehicle movement to north Chennai disrupted

CHENNAI NOV. 7. Heavy overnight showers in the city led to another day of paralysed traffic in some parts, and presented a daunting challenge to the Chennai Corporation. On Thursday, vehicle movement to north Chennai from other parts was totally disrupted because of waterlogging at the RBI subway.

Drivers of vehicles, in a hurry to get round the blocked subway, tried to speed along Flagstaff Road, as a by-pass, only to create a severe traffic jam. Several VIP vehicles openly moved to the wrong side of the road, watched by the police. They thus created further confusion and blockades.

At the root of the problem was lack of coordination between the Corporation personnel, who control the motors, and the highways department, which is in charge of the subway. This failure led to the crisis, which threw traffic out of gear in the Flower Bazaar area, leading to a cascading effect, and vehicles piled up on the arterial EVR Salai.

The disruption of EMU services because of water flooding the tracks added to the woes of the residents. With the both rail and road traffic being affected, office-goers in north Chennai were the worst affected. Stagnation of water in low-lying areas and bad road conditions caused severe hardship to motorists.

Thursday's traffic snarls fuelled further frustration among the commuters, who have been encountering official foot-dragging in tackling the waterlogging problem in the city despite the personal intervention of the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, who convened a meeting of senior officials to ensure better co-ordination.

Enquiries reveal that the waterlogging at the RBI subway was caused because sufficient motors were not put into service. "Though about a dozen motors are required for pumping out water from the subway, hardly half the number was available. These motors were not put to use during the night hours, compounding the problem," a senior government official said.

With vehicles not able to use the RBI subway they were diverted at different points leading to chaos.

On the attitude of Government drivers trying to get the better of other less influential roadusers and edging past them, many motorists fumed that the regime should advise its drivers to follow traffic rules. "Because of the impatience of these drivers who come on the wrong direction the problem only gets acute with vehicles getting stranded and further delays the journey", a police constable said.

It took about six hours for the police to pump out the water from the subway with the help of the corporation and the fire service personnel.

With the monsoon still not over and the corporation machinery failing to gear up to the problem coupled with lack of co-ordination among various departments the problems for the city residents looks far from over.

The need of the hour is for a sustained effort by various agencies to prevent waterlogging and repairing of roads on a war footing. The image of the corporation has touched such a low level that residents do not heed their warnings for not pumping out water from buildings on to the road.

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