Click here for more...

Click here for more...

(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 6, july 1-15, 2009
Bumpy road ahead
for elevated road
(By A Special Correspondent)

The Government’s plans to build a multi-tiered elevated r`oad along the Beach from the Lighthouse up to Kottivakkam and along the Adyar, Cooum and Bucking­ham Canal is based on the premise that vertical growth of roads is the only solution for a city that has no space for ­horizontal development. Those who are concerned with the quality of life in the city, ­however, have plenty of ­questions to ask about the ­viability of such a solution.

The Government, for its part, has listed a number of positives. It claims that while a long-term solution to the city’s problems will be decongestion through the development of suburbs, medium-term and short-term solutions to relieve pressure on roads demand the development of such elevated corridors. The new roads, with the highest tier at 18 metres, the height of a six-storeyed building, will see vehicles move at a speed of 70 kmph as opposed to the present average of 30. There will be dedicated bus lanes and cycle lanes on these roads, which will allow for segregation of vehicles, a feature non-existent today. Faster public transport will also encourage more people to use this means of travel as against the present trend where private vehicles are preferred.

While these are all to the good, those in the vicinity of these proposed roads and those concerned with the environment are quick to point out the negatives. While travel along these roads may be fast enough, there will be chaos at the touch-down points where they link up with the regular roads of the city. The elevated road along the Marina will also destroy what is virtually the last big lung of the city.

The Government plans to identify land along the elevated corridors and throw it open for commercial development. It plans to use the funds so generated for the new project. This will mean large-scale displacement of people living along these areas, many of them belonging to the poorer sections of society. The Government has not spelt out where it proposes to relocate these people; the fear that is uppermost in the people’s minds is that they will be offered alternative accommodation at places far from where they eke their livelihood. The most affected people will be the fisherfolk along the sea coast.

The plan makes no allowance for pedestrians and it is worthwhile pointing out here that the riverbanks, no matter how polluted the water-bodies themselves are, are one of the few places, besides the beach­front which comes alive with walkers in the morning and evening, where people can walk.

There is also a fear of widespread environmental pollution, especially in the case of the elevated road along the beach. Not only will such a structure be violating Coastal Regulation Zone rules that forbid construction along the sea coast, it will also result in exhaust fumes and automobile-related pollutants being washed into the sea during the rains, thereby affecting aquatic life. The area along the sea is also one of the nesting ­locations of the Olive Ridley Turtle.

Lastly, the elevated roads, like the flyovers that dot the city, will by their monolithic nature completely prevent any other development in the surrounding areas. As has happened in the roads that lie alongside flyovers, roads in the vicinity of the elevated corridors will become practically unusable. It is also a moot point how many buses can ply at 70 kmph at an elevation of 18m and still travel without causing accidents. Some of the flyovers in the city do not cater to bus traffic at all. With the side roads narrowing considerably, buses have a tough time negotiating such stretches, thereby slowing down traffic even further.

All these and more have been asked of the Government by the 200 people who attended the public consultation held to discuss the plan. Almost everyone opposed it. The Government could only assure people that it was looking into the matter. It is to be hoped that the plan will take into account the concerns expressed by people before work begins.

In this issue

Bumpy road ahead...
Do Chennai's art deco...
Justice party owed...
Madras Week
Historic residences...
Other stories in this issue...

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


Back to current issue...