Sunday, Oct 20, 2002
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By S. Shivakumar
The worst-affected areas include Valsaravakkam and Pensioners Lane in Old Washermanpet, where several inner roads are waterlogged even after slight showers. Residents find it impossible even to step out of their houses.
The roads on the outskirts cry for attention from civic authorities, thanks to the CMDA's approach and its schemes such as regularisation of deviated constructions. Residents are put to hardship owing to haphazard parking of lorries and bigger vehicles.
The city is starved of parking space and many vehicles are parked on the streets and roads. Poor planning by the traffic police and related departments has led to hijacking of valuable government land, which could be put to better use for traffic improvement.
Several kiosks have sprung up in different parts with the support of local councillors. It is charged that government land involving three departments Highways, the TN Slum Clearance Board and Metrowater on New Avadi Road in Division 55 is being hijacked with the alleged connivance of a local councillor for construction of commercial shops. Though residents in the area have taken up the issue with the authorities, no step has been taken yet to stop the construction.
If the Chennai Corporation and the State Highways Department have left the city roads battered enough to be death traps, the Road Safety Commissioner (RSC) mandated with the task of improving safety has practically not begun functioning yet.
Despite huge sums being spent by the State Government, the poor road condition, coupled with haphazard parking, has made a mockery of modernisation schemes.
Two-wheeler riders and pedestrians who are forced to squeeze their way with fast moving vehicles because of reduced carriageway face the risk of being killed or injured in accidents.
During 2000, the Transport Commissioner was nominated as RSC and asked to analyse statistics relating to road accidents, take up studies and identify causes, accident-prone spots, take up installation of traffic lights, provide road medians and most importantly, ensure safe roads for motorists.
However, apparently none of these principles has been fulfilled as road users are finding out.
Ironically, though most pavement shops are illegal on Anna Salai, the authorities concerned fail to take action for reasons best known to them.
While senior police officials keep claiming that the main reason for congestion was the increase in the number of vehicles while road space remained the same, traffic planners point out that in reality, the problem lay in not utilising road space in most areas. They allege that the police are selective in the enforcement of `no parking' rules.
While vehicles are allowed to be parked near most hotels, hospitals and commercial establishments, cars parked in residential areas are towed away.
However, there will be a visible change for road users and reduction in road accidents if the City Police Commissioner, K. Vijay Kumar, and the Inspector-General North Zone, S. George, take up the challenge to prevent haphazard parking.
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