KR Ramaswamy had filed over 500 PILs over a span of over two decades, and has been responsible for a number of changes in Tamil Nadu.

Traffic Ramasamy talking in his officeTower News Screengrab
news Death Tuesday, May 04, 2021 - 20:15

In the 1990s, he stood hours in traffic, regulating traffic in arterial areas of Chennai city. This earned KR Ramaswamy the moniker ‘Traffic’. An activist who started regulating traffic, soon moved his battles to the court- filing hundreds of public interest litigations— and became a household name. However, on May 4, Traffic Ramaswamy, the man who fought relentlessly for the rights of people, passed away in Chennai. 

The 87-year-old was admitted to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital a few days ago. The hospital said that he had tested negative for coronavirus but was getting treated for lung issues. 

It was his activism that brought about major changes in the infrastructure and administration in Tamil Nadu — from regularisation of motorised fish carts, to decongestion of traffic, holding the government accountable for its spending. 

Ramaswamy was a founding member of the Home Guards in Chennai and was often seen regulating traffic in arterial and traffic-hit areas in the city.  It was, however, in 1992 that the prefix to his name "Traffic" came. Since then, the name somehow stuck on.

KR Ramaswamy was famous for his regular visits to courts. In his lifetime, he had filed over 500 public interest litigations (PILs) over the span of over two decades, and has been responsible for a number of changes in Tamil Nadu. His first PIL was In 1998, when he challenged the state government's decision to construct a flyover on the NSC Bose road near the Madras High Court. In 2002, he filed a PIL against motorized three wheeler make-shift auto-rickshaws that were used for selling fish.

KR Ramasamy was born on April 1, 1934 to an agricultural family and his first 18 years were spent in helping his family in agriculture. At the age of 18, he started working as a helper to then Chief Minister of Madras, C Rajagopalachari, a man whom Ramaswamy had said he considered a role model. "Rajaji taught me to always question the wrong. He also told me that I should always listen to those who criticise me. We may find our mistakes through them, he had told me. I have since then followed his advice,” Ramaswamy had told TNM in 2014. 

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.