The city is all set to provide passage to the Chinese President Xi Jinping who is heading to the temple town of Mahabalipuram, roughly 60kms away from Chennai, for his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (the PM is expected to fly into Mahabalipuram). In order to make the city ‘presentable’, Greater Chennai Corporation has taken up a series of beautification activities along the route to Mahabalipuram. Multiple pockets have been spruced up by repairing roads, painting the road dividers, cleaning and recolouring the barricades and in some places, covering up the ugly patches.
Various departments of the City administration have deployed a number of workers to give a makeover to the 20km stretch from ITC Grand Chola hotel to Sholinganallur via OMR and further onto Akkarai via the East Coast Road link road, and then lead up to Mahabalipuram, the path which will be taken by the VVIP convoys.
It is not just the roads and barricades but there are new Smart Bike points set up between Madhya Kailash and Tidel Park- I think this has been there for a while. A new Amma Canteen is being built with an e-toilet next to it near Karapakkam as well.
The sad truth is that all the roads in Chennai face similar issues, but are ignored until a VVIP decides to ply on them. A ride from Thiruvanmiyur to Akkarai via ECR will speak volumes of the stark contrast to the parallel road being readied for the VVIP. The story is similar beyond Sholinganallur where dividers are broken, dirty and full of pan stains.
It is not that the Corporation is unaware of the issues. A message circulating on social media, purportedly a Government circular, details out the exact locations where the roads need to be repaired and fixed before Oct 11th, and who is responsible for the same. Zonal officials or Bus Route Roads Department of GCC, or State Highways Department. They know what needs to be done, they just don’t feel the need to do it for ordinary citizens.
I suppose the citizens have to be thankful for this VVIP movement which is enabling a flow of services. It is now up to them to use and maintain them well as the next VVIP movement could be quite some time away!
[All photos by the Author]