CHENNAI: If you need just one example on how 'development' schemes are mindlessly conceived and executed without any thought about their maintenance, it has got to be the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) in the city.
What you have are huge, imposing structures that have become vice dens, where crime is common and often goes unreported. And the few cases that are reported are rarely cracked.
The murder of a man on the Greenways Road MRTS station premises on Monday night was just the latest instance of the complete lack of security across the network. Its darkened, spacious interiors that have little or no policing are dens of criminals. It's also a favourite haunt for lovers.
On Monday, Saravanan (27) was stabbed to death around 7.30 pm when he tried to protect girlfriend Nancy from being molested by a four-member gang at a deserted spot there.
MRTS stations extending over 1 km have huge halls, toilets, rooms and eight entrances (between every 200 metres) with staircases connected directly to the terrace. When this reporter entered the Greenways Road station, there was not a soul in sight. The entire place was littered with liquor bottles, chewing tobacco packets and used condoms. In a deserted room, there was a picture of nude girl. Only two Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel were on duty. Both were near the murder spot. "If you visit this place in the evenings, you will find young lovers in a deserted place spending time together,'' a policeman said. The situation is similar in almost all MRTS stations.
Autorickshaw drivers outside the Mandaveli station claimed that they often shoo lovers away, warning them that the place was unsafe. Yet the influx continues. As the RPF is understaffed, the police have sought the help of auto drivers to keep a watchful eye.
Of the 15 MRTS stations, the most crimeprone ones include Chepauk, Greenways Road, Indira Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur, as they have multiple entry and exit points facilitating easy getaway by criminals.
"At Greenways Road, most of the grill gates of the station complex were stolen by miscreants. Moreover, most of the criminals hail from the local slums and are familiar with the interiors of the building. They watch the movement of passengers from the ground floor and strike when they spot a woman walking alone,'' a railway officer informed.
Chain snatching is a regular feature at the station, a police officer conceded and pointed to a tunnel that runs from the ground floor into the waters of the Buckingham canal, along with the MRTS line. Miscreants use the tunnel to flee after robbing the commuters, he said. Most victims shy away from filing a complaint with the police, fearing reprisal from the criminals, he added. Officials take comfort in statistics because a few cases are filed. But commuters argue that victims opt out fearing ill treatment at the hands of the railway police.