‘O-paalam’ is a vital link between Azhvarthoppu and Palakkarai

The everyday commute is turning out to be an ordeal for hundreds of residents of Azhavarthoppu and several other residential colonies as work on the reconstruction of a limited-use subway, popularly referred to as ‘O-paalam’ by locals, has been progressing on a slow pace.

The subway is the vital link between Azhvarthoppu and Palakkarai in the city and hundreds of workers, office-goers, and school and college students have to go via it every day. Most residents of Azhavarthoppu and other residential colonies up to Anna Nagar and Andakondan prefer to walk through the subway to reach Palakkarai to board town buses.

Local residents have long been complaining over the inundation of the subway during monsoon season. The Railways had taken up work on reconstructing the subway a few months back. The pre-cast box-shaped concrete subway structure was put in place within a matter of hours recently. But work on construction of side walls on four sides of the subway is still under progress.

As the subway has been closed for traffic, pedestrians, cyclists and even two-wheeler riders are seen crossing over the Railway track to reach the other side. Locals complain that the only other option for them is to go via Bheema Nagar, a detour of about three to four km.

“The subway has been closed for traffic for more than a month now. A large number of people are crossing the Railway track throwing caution to winds. Besides, since it entails a steep climb from the road, many women and children slip and fall down. The work has been progressing at a very slow pace,” said Abdullah, a resident of Azhvarthoppu.

However, this was countered by a representative of the contractor who was present at the site on Saturday. “We work has been progressing well. The recent rain had caused a slight delay besides some problems in getting the ready-mix concrete to the work site. However, the side walls would be constructed within the week or so. After that only the blacktopping of the road has to be done which will be completed within a day,” he said.

Locals say that the subway could be opened for at least pedestrians by clearing the construction material. Workers at the site said that they were forced to close it for traffic as pedestrians and other commuters were causing much hindrance to the work. However, the construction material and the mounds of clay would be removed immediately to allow pedestrians, they said.