Leaving it vacant invites trouble

Nature abhors a vacuum: A vacant Corporation land on Chennai-Tiruvallur High (CTH) Road Ambattur Old Town illustrates this adage. It has been variously misused — as a halting point for truckers, a storage space by government agencies, an open urinal by passers-by and a garbage disposal space by residents. According to some residents, it also harbours anti-socials after sundown.

Residents suggest that Greater Chennai Corporaion (GCC) raise a park-cum-playground on this land, thereby conclusively putting an end to its misuse. The piece of land, roughly measuring 10,000 sq.ft., is located near the road overbridge opposite the TI Cycles factory. Found on a busy section of CTH Road, it’s likely to attract things that are not in the best interests of residents, as long as it stays vacant.

Residents are for having park on the vacant land as it provides a good view of the railway tracks, and children will enjoy watching trains chug past them. Besides, a park there will also benefit employees of TI Cycles who can visit it during a break, especially lunch hours.

“The civic body can also rope in private companies to maintain such a public facility,” says T. Gunaseelan, a long-time resident in Ambattur. At present, the open plot is used by truckers, including those bringing consignments of raw materials to TI Cycles. They find the space a convenient temporary halting point before getting started on their return journey. Due to the presence of truck and lorry drivers, a petty shop has come up. Government agencies including Corporation and the State Highways Department are said to store their equipment and other materials in the vacant land. There have also been instances of protests and public meetings being organised by various groups, on the plot. Passers-by including motorists use it as open toilet. Without any fencing, the open plot provides direct entry to the Ambattur railway station, which raises the question of safety for passengers.

Last year, to ensure the space is better utilised, officials of Zone – 9 of GCC provided the space to a private party for organing a public exhibition, for a specific period on a rental basis. However, the public exhibition had to get relocated elsewhere after a few weeks, as parking of vehicles became difficult.

“Steps will be taken to develop the open plot into a public utility soon,” says a Corporation official.

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