Thursday, September 16, 2010

City eyesores - is it Besant Nagar's turn?

Every time I wonder what my next blog should be about, in comes N.S. Venkataraman, trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, with something thought-provoking.

Besant Nagar, according to him, especially the part near Elliot’s Beach, has become an eyesore. But is Besant Nagar the only area in Chennai that is suffering such a fate, Mr Venkataraman? At least Besant Nagar is a posh area and residents here are perhaps not used to eyesores as millions of others in various parts of the city are.

Take Ashok Nagar, KK Nagar, Vadapalani, Virugambakkam and Porur, areas that are more familiar to me. Not only are the roads here in terrible shape, it almost seems that the civic administration is not really concerned about what happens in these parts. Anna Main Road and roads surrounding Padma Seshadri School in KK Nagar have lain battered for years, and no hope is in sight. Indeed, if you wish to take pictures of people digging roads, you can come to KK Nagar and be assured that you will get the picture you want. The turn near and into Nesapakkam is in such bad shape that yesterday, while negotiating it, I felt like I was on a boat on the high seas and felt sorry for my car tyres.

Mr Venkataraman lists the bus terminus in Besant Nagar as the area’s biggest eyesore. “There is an elliptical island near the bus terminus, once created as a beauty spot. Now, it is dry and in bad condition and no one knows who is responsible for maintaining it. Probably, no one,” he says, and adds that it is disgusting to see drunken (“sometimes in semi-naked condition”) men lying at the terminus day and night. And no wonder – a liquor shop is located nearby and lighting at night is poor. “What is even more distressing is that sometimes drunken women are also seen lying there,” he points out. My, my! Since when did the city come to such a pass! To add to all this, there is the smell of urine around the terminus.

Garbage lies unattended on several streets in Besant Nagar. Venkataraman says that on Fourth Cross Street and in Kakkan Colony, sewage overflows at regular intervals and residents have to step on such water to cross the street. “The story will not be complete without mentioning the frequent sewage overflow opposite Velankanni Church on the main road. The one beautiful beach, on which several lakhs of rupees were spent by Chennai Corporation for its so-called beautification, is an example of how not to maintain a natural beach. Stray dogs share space with men and hawkers everywhere and the fish stall emanates a nauseating smell in one corner,” Venkataraman says. Of course, there’s the Besant Nagar crematorium. But that perhaps is another story.

“So where is the civic administration?” Venkataraman asks. Wonder who can give him a convincing answer.

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