By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai, on April 26, 2011:
CHENNAI: For Kaushik, a class five student of a city Corporation-run middle school in Shenoy Nagar, Metro Rail is the latest villain in his life, which has robbed him off his leisure.The proposed Metro Rail alignment has led to a closure of his favourite Thiru-vi-ka Park where he used to spend his vacation days.For the past few years, Kaushik used to spend most of his mornings and evenings during the long summer break at the sprawling park. Coming from a family that struggles to make ends meet, Kaushik’s best memories summer holidays have come from the Thiru Vi Ka Park, his favourite place.The inconvenience is not exclusive to Kaushik; thousands of visitors who throng the green lung space located in Shenoy Nagar every day echoed the same feeling.Many of them even pull up the authorities of the Chennai Corporation for what they call an ‘ill-conceived idea’ to hand over the sprawling Thiru-Vi-Ka Park, spread across 8.8 acres of land, to the Metro Rail for constructing a station.“Crores of tax payers’ money was spent on renovating the sprawling park just few months ago and it was thrown open to public very recently. But, suddenly, it has been closed and handed over to the Metro Rail for three years to construct a station here,” lamented Kannabiran, a local resident and regular visitor of the park for decades.Besides Thiru-Vi-Ka Park, Nehru Park on Poonamallee High Road, May Day Park in Chintadripet and a park near the Ashok Pillar in Ashok Nagar were the other lung spots that were handed over to the Metro Rail.Though the residents were fully supportive of the state government’s plan to bring in the Metro Rail system to decongest the city roads by reducing the load on road transport, they were of the opinion that selling out public parks for the cause was not justified.Kumaresan, another resident of the locality, echoed the same concern. “Chennai hardly has any greenery. Many trees were cut when bridges were built. Now, Metro Rail would diminish it further,” he rues.