The Corporation of Chennai is no doubt patting itself on the back for having embarked on concretising its roads. The idea was originally to do this only for streets and thoroughfares that are not easily accessed by road-laying equipment. But, as The Man from Madras Musings can see, it is now done for whichever stretch takes the Corporation’s fancy. There comes a day when a roaring behemoth that spews concrete arrives in your neighbourhood and settles down for a long stay. The road is cut off to all traffic and the concrete pours forth. It is allowed to set and then the crew vanishes, behemoth and all.

But, as is usual with anything that our Corporation does, there is no concept of planning a forehand or anticipating the consequences of any action. Thus, houses that were all along an inch or two above the road, find themselves a foot below overnight, thanks to thickness of the concrete and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Secondly, the CMWSSB (MMM assumes he has got all the consonants correct and in order), which deals with our water and sewerage, has not shifted its manhole covers or elevated them or whatever it was supposed to do. And, so, the smooth concrete surface is marked here and there with deep craters below which the manholes lurk. Vehicles plying on these roads keep jumping in and out of these depressions which, in the good old tar days, were just a few inches deep but now go down by at least half a foot.

And then, what about the edges? The concrete is not spread up to the footpaths (if they exist) and quite a deep rut now runs between the sidewalks and the road proper. Vehicles going in and out of residences have quite a challenge and as for those who park along the sides (remember that Chennai follows a strict “No parking for visitors “cars” policy) they just cannot get to the edge. They now simply park on the concrete, thereby narrowing road space still further. So, it is chaos as usual.

Makes you want to hark back to the days of good old red earth and bullock carts, does it not? MMM is quite confident that we will eventually get there, given the way we are going about modernising. When our Corporation is with us, why worry?