The plight of Chennai’s pedestrians and the indifference of the CMDA and the DMK Government is highlighted in today’s Times of India in this piece. The importance given by the Times to Chennai’s descent into civic chaos is welcome. However, it skims the issue by ignoring two components of the problem: the rapacious expansion of road space at the cost of pavements, and the planning of new infrastructure without any scope for pedestrian facilities — that includes the overbridges built by Mr. Karunanidhi in his previous government and those being built in the current regime.
The DMK’s Minister in the Union Government, Mr. T.R.Baalu does not fare better. He has been talking of putting in pedestrian facilities in the gargantuan grade separator at Kathipara junction as an after thought; it was not part of the design.
Another fundamental concern that the media consistently fails to recognise is the faulty planning of the Chennai Metro rail. This ambitious railway is supposed to run along the busiest arteries of Chennai, Anna Road and Poonamallee High Road (EVR Salai). Without space for people to enter and exit stations, just how can a metro work?
Has anyone from the DMK or AIADMK even looked at the architecture of metro rail networks anywhere in the world? All civilised cities have wide footpaths or sidewalks that are a necessary adjunct to a metro rail system. But under the rule of the Dravidian “kazhagams”, Chennai has consistently lost its pedestrian facilities. Will the DMK put the pavements of 10 or 12 feet back along Anna Road and Poonamallee High Road? Or should people hoping to ride the Metro jostle their way through traffic and lawless autorickshaws and tourist cabs?
On another front, The Hindu today reports on the power situation in special coverage, pointing to the very troubling times faced by industry, in comparison with domestic consumers. Again, the special feature does not explain why the DMK regime has failed to augment supply through off-the-shelf non conventional routes, such as solar power for lighting. In fact, Chennai is a metropolis that does not have an “urja” shop (Hindi for energy shop) which the Ministry for Non-Conventional Energy Sources says it is running in most cities. This shows that Mr. Karunanidhi and the Minister concerned, Mr. Arcot Veerasamy have, at best, a weak commitment to solutions on lighting.
In response to our request for information, the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency stated in an email, “Lr.No.3183/SE/TEDA/2005 dt.24.06.2008 as follows: “Aditya Solar Shop was opened in the name M/s. Aditya Neema Solar shop, Wallajah Road, Ground floor, Chennai. It is not functioning at present.”