Take Diversion is a series by TNM that closely tracks the plight of roads in Chennai city and suburbs. If you have a story to share, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will ensure that your story reaches the authorities.
Shiny logos of software companies reflect in the sun, perched high upon the Olympia Tech Park building in the SIDCO Industrial Estate in Chennaiās Guindy. As you look up, familiar and important names spring up at you - Verizon, Royal Bank of Scotland, Kochar Globe, BNP Paribas and more. All this, even as the Metro rail zooms across its tracks, behind you, 50 feet up from the ground.
But this image of development shatters the minute you dare to look down at the road welcoming you into the industrial estate. The broad two-way, greets you with potholes on both sides and leads to a path where only about a fourth of the area would fit the traditional definition of a 'road'.
The next 200 metres it is covered in large craters, protruding manholes, sludge, open sewers and stagnant water. With over 50 companies occupying just the one road which begins at Olympia Tech Park, it is a daily struggle for commuters to make their way to work.
30-year-old Sasibalan, who works with the Royal Bank of Scotland, travels to work by bike.
"I have worked here for two-and-a-half years and the road has only gotten worse," he tells TNM. "The situation is very bad for two-wheelers especially. These potholes could make you fall or skid, especially during peak hours when there is a lot of traffic on the road," he adds.
The dangers only multiply, when the monsoon begins, warn commuters.
"When it is raining I can't even see what is in front of me. It is it a part of the road, a ditch or a sewer," explains Sasibalan.
Office-goers who walk through this road, claim they face worse dangers.
"When it starts raining, the sewers overflow and water fills the streets and come up to our knees," says Niveditha, a 24-year-old who works with Royal Cyber Inc. "When it rains we all try to walk along the same line to make sure there are no open drains or potholes we could fall into. Even auto and cabs refuse to come here during the monsoons," she adds.
When TNM spoke to drivers in an auto stand in SIDCO, they claimed that the roads within the SIDCO industrial estate have been damaged and neglected for over two decades.
"The drainage here is never cleaned, it is full of garbage and the water overflows to the road. What is the point of all these big companies here," asks Nagaraj, an auto driver who has his stand in the industrial estate. "I have been here for 20 years. I have seen them putting sand and covering the potholes but when it rains everything is gone. We have had to change our tyres as soon as even three months sometimes because of the wear and tear on this road," he claims.
The roads are maintained by the civil department of the SIDCO Industrial Estate. The Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation Limited (SIDCO) is a state-agency established to promote small-scale industries. Sources aware of the contracts issued to fix the road say that constant development work in the area has delayed the maintenance process.
"The constant laying of storm water drains, electric cables and other work has caused frequent damage to the roads. They are trying to correct it but there are some government issues. There is a lot of difficulty and lot of approvals have to be sought," says the source.
According to reports, SIDCO receives land for a nominal rate from the state government and is tasked with setting up necessary infrastructure before selling the property. They are responsible for coordinating with different departments to maintain the estate.