The Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) is fondly called 'Parakkum Rail' in the Tamil language, which translates to 'Flying Train'. In a metropolitan city like Chennai, the arterial roads are choked with traffic and it can take you even half an hour to travel a few kilometers. The MRTS trains link several key places in the city.
The system is built on elevated rails, and one has to go up two floors to get on to one of these trains. Each of the rail stations sprawl over several acres, and with the exception of the ticket counter, these huge spaces have not been put to any use. It is indeed a 'criminal waste' of prime real estate space, which is bound to bring tears to the eyes of several real estate brokers.
Within these unsupervised crevices, several criminal activities take place
. To curb these activities, the spaces can be put to good use so that constant public presence keeps crime at bay.
V. J. Accamma, Chief Public Relations officer of Southern Railways, said that the Government/Railway board had floated several tenders to several firms to fill up the spaces, and that they were waiting for the Board's decision. She expressed hope that shopping centers would soon spring up in these stations.
I spoke to a few commuters and got a few ideas from them as well. They were of the opinion that shops, restaurants, concert venues, hotels etc. could be set up here. One of the commuters was of the opinion that the whole thing should be privatized and leased out to big commercial firms.
In conclusion, the Government continues to express hope about the optimal use of space at the stations. Can the same be said of the Government's efforts to make effective use of these spaces? This is a question which hangs higher than the stations' gigantic ceilings.