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Chennai suburbs developing, amenities lagging behind

K. Lakshmi and Ajai Sreevatsan

Well-laid roads, transport, good water and pucca sewer system are the demands still unfulfilled

— Photo: K. Pichumani

SWANKY LOOK: Major projects such as the elevated corridor along the CTH Road at Ambattur Industrial Estate have brought in more settlers to the suburbs, making it a challenging task for local bodies to upgrade basic amenities.

CHENNAI: Swanky buildings dot the landscape of suburbs along the Chennai Tiruvallur High Road and more are underway. But, the localities enroute present a picture of stark contrast.

Many residents recalled that the localities have undergone tremendous progress from housing quiet spaces with a few scattered houses, forcing people to stay indoors by the dark to the accommodating noisy ones reflecting the burgeoning population. The fast track development has been hardly matched with basic amenities.

With its proximity to the city, Ambattur is the most sought after location for IT companies. K.Purushothaman, Regional Director, NASSCOM, said “Software companies started exploring the potential of Ambattur Industrial Estate due to availability of manpower. Nearly four million sq. ft. of office space is available. Rentals are cheaper than on the OMR up to Perungudi.”

Two major projects of Padi grade separator and the 3-km elevated corridor, a component of the Chennai bypass project being constructed by the National Highways Authority of India, have had their impact on traffic and housing development.

Officials of Ambattur and Avadi municipalities said the number of settlers have increased in the recent years. While the number of assessees has shot up by 10 per cent at Avadi, it has grown from 88,451 to 91,334 in one year at Ambattur.

Nearly two lakh passenger car units use the grade separator daily. However, the elevated corridor from Ambattur industrial estate to Pattaravakkam railway station is yet to be completed. It envisages connecting NH 45 along Tambaram with NH 5 along Madhavaram.

The project meant problems for residents as NHAI has failed to provide proper storm water drains. K.Durairajan, president of Gnanamurthy Nagar Residents' Welfare Association, said “after the NHAI project, Gnanamurthy Nagar gets flooded even after a few days of showers as there was no proper channel to drain rain water.”

The CTH Road also has its share of woes. On an average, about 40,000 passenger car units use it. Motorists spend almost two hours to travel from Avadi to the city owing to increase in traffic and narrow, damaged stretches.

Though the Padi grade separator has reduced congestion, the problem would not get solved unless the CTH Road widening project is implemented, residents said.

With a price?

The transformation of Ambattur from an industrial zone to a booming Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) hotspot has come at a price. Much has to be done by the local bodies to address the growing needs of people.

S.Vijaya, a resident of Korattur, said interior roads in many localities, including Lenin Nagar, Ram Nagar and Vijayalakshmipuram, are in shambles. As the long-pending demand of a sewer system is yet to be fulfilled in the two municipalities, many apartment complexes release sewage into open spaces.

Transport is also a major issue in the areas along CTH Road. Residents said many bus services, which used to start from Ambattur, have been extended to Avadi due to inadequate facilities in the Ambattur OT bus terminus. There are no services to Koyambedu or Parry's Corner from Ambattur. Restoration of EMU train services to Padi and Anna Nagar would be a boon to commuters.

Conceding that the facilities are far behind compared to the demand, the municipality officials said besides water supply and underground drainage schemes, many projects are in the pipeline.

Officials at Ambattur said “About 80 per cent of the 2,500 roads would be relaid from January 2011. We are waiting for the road digging work for the Metrowater projects to be completed. Once the comprehensive SWD project is executed, inundation in Ambattur would be prevented.”

K.Ganapathy, a resident of Krishnapuram, suggested mini bus services must be operated to connect interior areas. The railway bridge close to Ambattur Uzhavar Sandhai has to be widened.

Admitting that overcrowded buses was a daily ordeal for commuters, a senior MTC official said there was inordinate delay in fleet upgradation over the past decade. New fleet acquisition has been taken up only in the last two years.

Funds have been allocated for concrete flooring to upgrade facilities at Ambattur OT terminus. “Once mini-buses start plying, localities like Ambattur, Avadi and Pattabiram will be better served through shuttle services,” he added.

On the rail connectivity, R.Ramanathan, Chief Administrative Officer (Construction), Southern Railway, said “The Anna Nagar-Villivakam link will become an inter-modal hub once the Metro Rail commences operation. Services have been suspended due to low patronage. We are also considering direct connectivity from Villivakam to Velachery through the MRTS network.”

Limited volume of trains is operated on the Gummidipoondi stretch as only two lines were available in the northern and western segments. Funds are awaited for a proposal to increase the number of lines.

Officials of NHAI said the 20-km stretch of CTH road from Padi to Avadi would be widened to 10 metre wherever possible as a temporary measure. After the completion of the road over bridge in Pattaravakkam, the elevated corridor would be commissioned in September.

Once the Chennai bypass and Outer Ring Road projects are implemented, traffic on CTH Road and Inner Ring Road would be reduced considerably in two or three years.

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