What the tale of two roads says about civic work in Chennai

Relaying of roads by civic body

ranjith road in kotturpuram
Ranjith road has many institutions and heavy traffic but has been in a poor state for many months. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan

Here is the tale of two roads from Kotturpuram.

A once-quiet, leafy neighbourhood made up of six roads. I say once-quiet because we are seeing that the inexorable march of beauty parlours, co-working spaces and other commercial establishments can only be delayed by a vigilant community, not denied.

So we have cars parked on all sides of our roads these days, by people who want to visit the shops and clinics on Gandhi Mandapam road, but of course, it is not their responsibility to see if their cars are blocking our access to the road.

We, who have been living there for many years before these shops and clinics came about.

Let me not digress. Back to the tale of two roads.

Read more: Poor administration turns Padur roads into accident hot spots

Makeover for Arunachalam Road

arunachalam road in kotturpuram
Arunachalam Road received a sudden makeover by the civic body. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan

One is Arunachalam Road. It was well-paved and milled before being relaid a couple of years ago. There are rainwater recharge pits on both ends and plenty of trees all along the road, so drainage of water after a heavy rain, was rarely an issue. 

But two weeks ago, one night around 11 pm, the road laying crew arrived. They shut the road off at both ends and told us they were relaying the road.

We asked why should a perfectly good road be relaid, and the contractor looked at me with a look that seemed to say ‘Please, do you live under a rock?’ Out loud, he told us there was pressure from ‘above’ to relay the road. 

new tar road laid in Arunachalam road
Freshly laid Arunachalam Road. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan

So Arunachalam Road, thanks to this high-placed benefactor, has a speed breaker at either end, brightly painted and marked.

There is a white line drawn along the periphery of the road to mark its edges, and the line even goes into dashes where the road turns.

amenities on Arunachalam road
LED lighting strips on Arunachalam Road. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan
edges painted on Arunachalam road
Fresh coat of pain on Arunachalam Road. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan
speedbreakers on the road
Speedbreakers on either end of Arunachalam Road. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan

Read more: Explainer: How are roads in Chennai laid?

Sorry state of Ranjith Road

In stark contrast to this road, 100 metres away, is Ranjith Road. A much busier road, which provides us direct access to the traffic intersection on Gandhi Mandapam Road.

There is a PHC at this junction, and further down the road are a preschool, Madras School of Economics and Vidyasagar, a renowned institution for differently abled and spastic children.

The road was even held up as a model road for accessibility by wheelchairs.  

entrance to MSE on Ranjith road
Ranjith Road has one of the entrances to the city’s famous Madras School of Economics. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan
broken road near PHC on ranjith road
Poor state of Ranjith Road near the government-run public health centre. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan

A year ago, TANGEDCO dug up the entire length of the road, with a promise that it would be restored to its earlier condition upon completion of their work.

The work is over but the promise remains unfulfilled. Ranjith Road resembles a lunar landscape, with barely enough space for one car to pass through.

The less said about the pavement, the better.

Ranjith road dug
One side of Ranjith Roa remains completely dug up and unusable. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan

Residents have made multiple appeals to authorities regarding the relaying of the road – they have petitioned GCC, complained to TANGEDCO, and requested a newspaper to write about it.

Nothing seems to work.

The pictures convey the sorry state.

Near the footpath on Ranjith
Ranjith Road has footpaths marked for differently-abled but the road remains unnavigable. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan
Entrance to Vidyasagar
Differently-abled students and attendees of Vidyasagar are severely affected by the poor state of Ranjith Road. Pic: Shobana Radhakrishnan

Perhaps, our anonymous benefactor of Arunachalam Road will put in a word for Ranjith Road too?

Also read:

Support Citizen Matters - independent, Reader-funded media that covers your city like no other.DONATE
About Meenakshi Ramesh 31 Articles
Meenakshi Ramesh is involved in civic initiatives in Chennai and anchors the Chennai edition of Citizen Matters. She has also worked with Pratham. She can be reached at meenakshi@citizenmatters.in