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