Apparently, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has a special place in his heart for the Kodambakkam bridge, which is now old, poorly maintained by the Chennai Corporation and far from inspiring. Even when attention was lavished on the new North Usman Road flyover, this bridge did not get even a coat of paint, and its surface is pitted and uneven.
When he spoke at the inauguration of the North Usman Road flyover, Mr. Karunanidhi narrated an anecdote about the frustrating and even deadly delays involved in crossing the Kodambakkam railway gate in the days before the bridge came up.
As narrated by him, the story is that when Mr. M.K.Stalin was a boy, he swallowed something dangerous, sending the family, then staying in the Zachariah Colony area, into a panic because it was impossible to cross over until the railway gate opened. Some well-wishers suggested that the boy be given bananas to reduce the risk of injury from the object that he had swallowed, until he could reach a doctor.
As we know, the story had a happy ending, and traffic now moves on bridges and mini-flyovers not just in Kodambakkam but in many other places.
Of course, a number of people are puzzled that not much has been done to change the decrepit and dirty nature of the space under the Kodambakkam bridge, in spite of nostalgic memories, fond recollections and the location of Murasoli as well as the Kalaignar television offices in that zone.
It would help so many families, if more houses could be built for the low income groups, a policy that was followed vigorously during the early DMK governments. Strangely, with rising economic prosperity, such welfare has actually declined, in keeping with the fall in national spending on health in real terms in the post-liberalisation era.