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Vol. XXXIII No. 5, June 16-30, 2023

Our Readers Write

The Pros and Cons of T. Nagar Skywalk

While the skywalk will bring about a new experience to the public, considering that this forms as an exclusive link between the bus stand and Mambalam Railway Station and will provide seamless movement, it will be of immense help only to those who want to reach bus stand from the railway station and vice versa. This category of pedestrians will only be a very few when compared to those who throng Ranganathan Street. Hence, the problem for those who frequent Ranganathan Street remains as the new infrastructure does not in any way change the situation.

For those who reside in the nearby Streets, except that it will provide a neat track for a morning walk on skywalk, the structure will not be of any use to them too, as they have to wade through the crowd even if they prefer to avoid Ranganathan Street. For those coming in from West Mambalam, here again, the skywalk will be useful only to reach the bus stand. On rainy days, the skywalk will come to the rescue as it will provide shade and protect them from getting drenched at least till the exit/entry points.

Therefore, the perception that the skywalk will be a remedy to the problems being faced by pedestrians is wrong. Of course, that will take away a few, who otherwise would be using Ranganathan Street cannot be denied. Since a majority of pedestrians are those who visit Ranganathan Street, the surge of crowd will continue to be witnessed. Hence, the authorities cannot turn a blind eye to the problems which will remain unresolved even after the major structure is put up.

In order to prevent overcrowding on Ranganathan Streets and the neighbouring Railway Border Road and Natesan Street, the authorities have to resolutely work to completely remove the widespread encroachments. It must be mentioned that even major commercial complexes despite having vast space within their set up, encroach the public space to showcase their wares. Besides this, the vendors/hawkers hijack equally good space. Thus, the 30 feet width street becomes narrow, and restricts public movement to a great extent. As many shops do not have fire safety systems in place, these streets are prone to endangering the lives of the public and the staff, besides wrecking damage to the property. Medical emergency vans/fire tenders will be unable to enter the streets due to heavy encroachment. Since the skywalk is no cure to the disease but a mere pain reliever, the authorities must remove the encroachment on a permanent basis. Removing the encroachment will only be the lasting solution to the problem. 

V.S. Jayaraman
31/57, Motilal Street
T. Nagar, Chennai 600 017

Crocodiles at school

I write to register a strong protest against The Lady from Madras Musings who has cast aspersions against the veracity or sanity of one of my schoolmates from the late 1940s. We did indeed have a crocodile in a small cement tank at the premises of our school in George Town.

It (the crocodile) was only a little one, barely a metre long. Apparently it was found on the banks of the Kaveri near the Mettur Dam. I have no authentic information on how it found its way into rather cramped accommodation near our dining room, which we called the dungeon because it was ill lit and ill ventilated.

Perhaps one of our teachers thought of establishing a small aquarium. It did not attract much attention from the students, as it was immobile most of the time, and we had a hasty lunch and ran off to play till the afternoon classes started. Anyway, it had gone when we returned from some vacation. Those were days before Madras had Mr. Whitaker or the crocodile bank, so perhaps it was transferred to the zoo.

M.K. Mani
1, Kasturirangan Road
Chennai 600 018

Vincent’s Jottings

Tiffin at Sukha Niwas in Luz. And I was on my way to the release of Lockdown Journal Chennai, the unique book of stories, essays and notes written by Chennaites during the recent pandemic years. The hawker stalls on the pavement are the poor man’s lifestyle shopping destination. Fascinating.

It is here that I spotted two youths, locking a cycle. At the head of the street that leads to Pallakumanyam Nagar, a sprawling colony developed decades ago by the TN Slum Clearance Board. The boys were in the School uniform. And at 6 pm. I was wondering what they were doing in this place. They had come to shop for footwear.

We conversed. They were tenth standard students at the school in Alwarpet and the special classes to prepare for the public exam had just got over. We conversed freely. Since I knew a bit about the school and the teachers there, the leads for the chat flowed nicely.

Do you guys play in school? I asked. They said a majority of their classmates played football, that the school had only a worn-out basketball court and a volleyball court. They told me the PT master was a bored man. And that they and their friends played as a football team at the Chennai Corporation playground on St. Mary’s Road.

Who decides how the city’s civic body must plan and execute extra facilities for a school, or for your ward, or for your colony? Rarely the people for whom it is meant for.

Later that evening, after an interesting book release event at the vintage Ranade Library in Luz, I spotted this social media post on the page of Greater Chennai Corporation.

It was a post on a modern, multipurpose ground laid for a Chennai School in MGR Nagar. Students can play volleyball, basketball or kabbadi here. And I thought to myself – have GCC officials chatted with students of the Alwarpet School, sought their ideas and planned sports facilities they want today?

Our newspaper has covered the city’s body down-top; that is, reported on Ward and Zone level conversations, plans and projects. This is the broad style of how thing work – councilors meet and present their local issues at the zonal level; officers weave in key projects that GCC Headquarters wants implemented now, and they nod for minor pleas that keep councilors half-pleased.

Grassroot democracy has been stilled in our city. A Ward has ten sabhas. Each sabha must have a member, preferably a representative of the area. This process has been cannibalized in Wards where politicians have a say: civic-minded people are sidelined.

How will our councilor get to know that his/her area needs a football field for its youths and not flower beds under the flyover? How will GCC officials be told that a recently-relaid playground that Minister Udayanidhi Stalin inaugurated is a half-baked, hurried job? – Courtesy: Mylapore Times.

Vincent D’Souza

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