Saturday, 23 August 2014

Chennai Needs A Change!

It is such a coincidence that I am blogging about my native city, Chennai, in consecutive days. Yesterday Chennai turned 375. That is indeed an achievement!. . . And here I am blogging about it for, like the N-th time. My previous Chennai posts have always centered around the positive qualities and aspects of the Chennai way-of-life. My A-Z challenge is proof of that. One can even google about it. But then, like any other metropolitan city in India, Chennai is plagued by certain problems that still continue to tarnish its image. That is why I decided to talk about it, instead of the usual glorifying posts.

Over the years, Chennai has undergone a massive change and expansion. From being a former important British administrative centre, it has now turned into a bustling city, home to around 4.7 million people excluding sub-urban areas. Chennai does have some proud tags such as:  "The Detroit of Asia", "The Gateway to South India", "Health Capital of India" etc; And of course it is the land of Rajinikanth and AR Rahman. Yet, I am not completely happy about it.

There is only one so-called negative thing about Chennai that can't be changed. Yeah, I am talking about the unique, torrid climate of Chennai throughout the year. People always complain about it. But we, natives have got used to it. But there are other negative things that can be changed, but haven't. Atleast not yet properly implemented.

The Cooum (Source: THE HINDU)
The first and foremost stinking thing about Chennai I would like to talk about is the Cooum. Now, many people relate the Cooum with Chennai. It makes me sad when they relate it to a bad thing. The Cooum is a small river that meanders through Chennai and the stench from it is overwhelming that one can't stand near the fringes of it even for 5 minutes. The government did announce a mega prjoect for Cooum river restoration, allocating a whopping Rs. 3834 /- crore. But we are yet to see the fruits of it. As of now, the river still has its stinking glory. I only hope the Cooum turns into something like this in the below picture. I know, it is too much to expect :P


The second thing that is a menace for the people is the quality of air in Chennai, especially the city areas. When I talk about quality of air, I also refer to the usual traffic congestion that occurs in arterial roads which is one of the main causes. The number of private vehicles has increased exponentially in the last decade and I myself could see the change in the course of my childhood. Though the city has a sort of good green cover for an Indian city, I don't think it is enough. As you can see in the below pictures, the traffic is very much.

This is a problem that can be changed only with the change in the mindsets of the people. Public transport is there for a reason. Do use them. 

The construction of the Metro Rail has further aggravated the situation. The smoke billowing from the exhausts of automobiles and motorbikes are very much toxic. No amount of covering the face would protect one's health. 

Traffic also brings another issue to my mind. The way the people drive is of utmost carelessness. They end up with unnecessary accidents. It is like a race in city roads. I have seen people riding bikes in a curvy zig-zag manner, cruising to the front. I don't understand the point in hurrying. If you are so obsessed with time, you should start early from the source. The rash driving not affects the drivers but also the pedestrians and damage to public property.

The final problem with Chennai, I think, is to do with the unpreparedness and problems that ensue after a terrible disaster strikes. Of course, I am not doubting the social and physical infrastructure. But we have to be ready for anything. The 2004 tsunami and the more recent building collapse in Mugalivakkam are still fresh in our memories. It created a panic amongst people. Disaster such as these are bound to happen and so it is essential to predict the risks and manage them effectively when it happens. While Chennai is under a sort of safe Seismic Zone III, it must not be complacent. 

Kathipara Flyover!

For example, think of the massive Kathipara clover-leaf flyover. It is one of the largest in South Asia. Now supposing, an aircraft crashes on one of the viaduct or an earthquake itself occurs, imagine the picture! So firstly, structural integrity must be perfect and second if it fails, the management of the disaster must be prompt and quick with effectiveness!

Akash Govindarjan
Loyola College

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