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Is Kottapattu the ideal location for a bus stand?

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Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s announcement on the government’s decision to establish the proposed integrated bus stand at Kottapattu in the city has triggered a debate in social media and among civic activists on the suitability of the site.

Although the government’s move to give shape to the proposal that has been pending for more than two decades has been largely welcomed, civic activists feel that the site at Kottapattu is not the ideal location for a facility that would have to meet the requirements of the city for the next 50 years. Many of them have called for a rethink and consultation with the stake holders before finalising the site.

The proposal to establish an integrated bus terminus gained ground in the mid 1990s after the Tiruchi Corporation shelved a plan to set up a satellite bus stand close to the Karur Highway, owing to prohibitive land cost. Initially, a site at Devadhanam off the Tiruchi-Chennai Bypass Road was identified but later discarded as it was considered too close to the Cauvery and prone to flooding. Subsequently, the Ariyamangalam compost yard and various other sites on the Ramji Nagar on the Tiruchi-Dindigul National Highway, Pirattiyur and Kottapattu on the Pudukottai National Highway came up for consideration at different points of time during the DMK and AIADMK regimes.

In 2010, DMK narrowed down on a vast expanse of land at Panchapur, but the location did not find favour with the succeeding AIADMK regime. In 2014, the previous AIADMK government convened a high level official meeting to discuss the issue when the site at Kottapattu was discussed. However, there was no official announcement on the decisions taken. Although the Chief Minister announced that the Kottapattu site was finalised under the former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, he did not specify the extent of the land available or identified for the project or any other details.

According to available indications, the bus stand is planned to be set up on a 70-acre site behind the Central Prison. But many feel that this is not a suitable location for the bus stand. “The site is not at all a suitable location as the area, branching off from the Pudukottai Road, is already congested. It will only worsen the traffic problems in the area. Besides, the airport and the Central Prison are located close by and could lead to security concerns. Once a bus stand comes up, there could be pollution and garbage dumping, attracting birds and thereby heightening the threat of bird hits for aircraft,” says H. Ghouse Baig, secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu.

Many have pointed out in social media that the site was already gridlocked between the airport, prison and railway lands and was situated in a residential area. There would be no scope for further development, they contend.

Accessibility would be another problem, several others feel. “The Pudukottai road and the TVS Tollgate already witness heavy traffic congestion. With the Pudukottai road being the only access road to the bus stand, it will create huge problems. Even if an access road is provided from Golden Rock side, it will not help much,” feels C. Balasubramanian, honorary president, District Exnora.

Many including Mr. Baig and Mr. Balasubramanian believe that the Defence land at Mannarpuram is the ideal location for setting up the new bus stand. If the government can persuade the Defence Ministry to part with its land for the airport, why not for the bus stand? they wonder. Some others feel that the bus stand should ideally be located on the city outskirts. This has led to demands for a public consultation exercise. “The demand for an integrated bus stand is a long pending one. We thank the Chief Minister for deciding to set up the bus stand. But the site for the bus stand should be decided in consultation with the city residents and service organisations. The pros and cons of different locations should be evaluated” says M. Sekaran, president, Federation of Consumer and Service Organisations.

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