When the 200-metre stretch of Ammamandapam road to Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam was widened a few years ago, many heaved a sigh of relief. But with government and private establishments turning it into a a parking lot, the road has now become a nightmare for them. The island which attracts lakhs of pilgrims every month remains choked with recurring traffic bottlenecks. It is pointed out that though the road can be widened further, there has been no strategic planning and traffic management in this regard.
Located between Cauvery and Kollidam rivers, Srirangam has three entry and exit points, namely Ammamandapam road near Cauvery bridge, Gandhi road near Thiruvanaikoil and another via Kollidam flood bank road. Since about 75% of the visitors enter the island via Ammamandapam road, it sees frequent bottlenecks, particularly the 600-metre stretch close to Rajagopuram, thanks due to its limited width. Sensing the need to widen Ammamandapam road, highways department had about three years ago widened about 200 metres between EVS Street and Gandhi Road. However, the widened portion is not available for vehicular traffic now as the space which is wide enough to operate buses serves as parking lot for several establishments. The beneficiaries include even the Srirangam police station besides a few tea stalls nearby.
“Traffic congestion will come down if the widened portion of Ammamandapam road is made available for vehicular movement. Instead, the barricaded stretch is utilised by Srirangam police station and autorickshaw drivers for parking,” B Hemanathan, president of Arangamanagar Welfare Association, told, Residents say that the Ammamandapam road close to the pedestrian corridor can be used strictly for vehicles entering Ranganathaswamy temple and Melur road while the parallel recently-widened stretch be used exclusively for vehicles to reach Gandhi road.
However, lack of planning and implementation by authorities fail to decongest Srirangam island. “Encroachments are there on Ammamandapam and Gandhi roads. Apart from removing the illegal establishments, highways can consider widening the Ammamandapam road till Thirumanjana Cauvery bridge,” R Govindaraju, a retired revenue official from Srirangam, said. When contacted, official sources in state highways department said that there were no new proposals to widen the Ammamandapam road as a portion of it was widened three years ago. As the 22-day-long Vaikunta Ekadasi festival at Srirangam temple will commence on December 7, about 5 lakh pilgrims will visit the temple during the festival days. With such footfall expected, residents have demanded that the existing traffic arrangement near the Rajagopuram of Srirangam temple be streamlined.