With the long overdue work on setting right the badly-damaged footpaths leading to the popular Government Botanical Garden here having been set in motion by the civic administration hopes of the busy road being relieved of congestion have been raised.

Though until a decade or so ago it was conventional for the authorities concerned to give a facelift to the town and improve the important footpaths and roads just before the curtain went up on the annual summer tourist season, of late the practice has been conspicuous by its absence.

While successive municipal councils attributed it to paucity of funds, residents particularly senior citizens blamed lack of planning on the part of the civic administration for important activities like this being put on the back burner and consequent deterioration of civic amenities.

Speaking to The Hindu a senior official of the Tourism Department said that the preference for walking within the town and in the suburbs was increasing among the tourists especially those from crowded cities.

However, a regret shared by many of them was that the conditions were not conducive for walking. While the roads were congested with vehicles and traffic rules not adhered to the footpaths were misused.

Concerned residents opined that the tendency of the civic officials to turn a blind eye to the misuse of footpaths was a source of concern. Stating that the footpaths along the Government Botanical Garden were being improved after a gap of several years, Municipal Engineer Ramoorthy said that it had been made possible by financial assistance to the tune of Rs.25 lakh extended under the Hill Area Development Programme (HADP).

He also said that steps would be taken to check the unauthorised sale of vegetables on footpaths.

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