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Saturday, August 11, 2001

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Perambur residents grappling with urban chaos

By Saptarshi Bhattacharya

CHENNAI, AUG. 10. The completion of the Perambur flyover project is expected to be delayed further with the State Government setting up an enquiry commission to look into the alleged ``irregularities'' in the construction of the flyover. For the residents, this is bad news, as they have a long ordeal ahead, grappling with the problems of living in an area of urban chaos.

Civic conditions in and around the construction site have gone from bad to worse since the commencement of the project. The approach to the Perambur vehicular subway from the Perambur High Road side continues to be closed to vehicular traffic. Though two-wheelers and autorickshaws ply along the stretch, buses are being terminated near the railway station. This left the passengers at the mercy of the autorickshaw drivers who charged exhorbitantly for short distances. The worst affected are the aged persons and women.

Since this approach has been blocked, all MTC buses take a detour through Vyasarpadi subway to reach Perambur which is about three km. of extra travel, commuters said. This arrangement has been going on since February 1999 when the construction started. ``The delay is testing our patience. How long do they take to complete one bridge?'' asks Mohd. Motin, a local trader.

During heavy rains, both the Perambur and Vyasarpadi subways are deluged, making it difficult to use them. On such days, the Perambur Loco Works overbridge that connects Ayanavaram with Perambur is used by the commuters.

The Perambur subway is an important link between the city and the fringe areas of Perambur, Madhavaram, Erukkenchery and the Moolakadai belt including the GNT Road.

Everyday, at least three lakh people travel to and from these areas to the city. This happens to be the only bridge in the congested North Chennai area.

The kilometre-long Perambur bridge, which is being built above the existing vehicular subway close to the Perambur railway station connecting Perambur High Road and Madhavaram High Road, has suffered delays due to technical problems, and a severe cost escalation.

But now, with the change of guard at Fort St. George, the flyover has got bogged down in political controversy. ``The present government does not want the flyover to be completed during the Mayor, Mr. M. K. Stalin's period. So, they will ensure that it is completed only after his term at office is over,'' a local resident, unwilling to go on record, alleged.

However, there is no concrete information available on the current status of the construction work. The Corporation officials are tight-lipped after the enquiry commission was ordered to be set up. It will be a long wait for the residents and the commuters to benefit from a development project, and unless the present government completes it early, there will be few who will pay encomiums to it.

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