But such registers are not complete or updated

Residents can use the data in some of the 21 registers maintained at each ward office by the junior engineers of Chennai Corporation to work towards restoring footpaths. However, visits to a number of ward offices reveal that such registers are not complete or updated. Senior officials of the Chennai Corporation said a complete data set of a simple four-page road register could be used by residents or pedestrians effectively to examine the condition of the footpaths to facilitate restoration before the civic body implements major capital works on footpaths.

“We are unable to maintain roadwar register (road register) properly because of the shortage of staff. We know that the sketch of the road should have more details. Additional employees will ensure better data collection and recording on the register. It is not done by some joint engineers (JE) because they focus more on ongoing civic works and meetings,” said a JE.

Access to the first two pages of the road register of a stretch that has inadequate footpaths can help pedestrians gain knowledge of the problem and persuade the Chennai Corporation to repair footpaths.

The way to do so would be for residents to file an RTI application or trace the actual road width from Revenue Department records, including block maps. They can then calculate the actual dimension of the footpath from data available with the road register.

But most of the residents and councillors do not seek details from the register to ensure that their road and footpath are in good shape. “Residents have never asked for data from the register. None of the residents in my ward has sought data from road register to check the condition of the footpaths,” said V. Sukumar Babu, Chennai Corporation councillor of ward 105.

Many of the councillors too do not even know about road registers and their significance for each road. “If a JE ignores the maintenance of a road register, the condition of the footpath is likely to gradually deteriorate. Residents of the road have to be more vigilant to save their footpaths,” said an official of Chennai Corporation.

A poster in every ward office indicates that attending to the ‘formation and maintenance of footpaths/pavements is one of the duties of the junior/assistant engineer. ‘However, officials said there are not enough road workers who regularly inspect the deficiencies on footpaths.

One of the junior engineers on Tuesday pointed to the large number of vacancies in road worker posts in the ward, leading to inadequate maintenance of footpaths. More than 80 percent of the posts are vacant. “The Commissioner has given orders for the hiring of workers through agencies now. But many zones have not implemented the order so far,” said a junior engineer. The maintenance of footpaths is possible if all junior engineers are motivated to restore footpaths regularly. “Formation of a special team for restoration of footpaths could also be effective. Initially, we could select one division and commence the restoration,” suggested a junior engineer.

Most of the ward offices maintain a variety of registers in addition to those to do with roads. These are: the building plan register, court case register, attendance register, work allocation register, movement register, tools and plants register, simple repairs register, estimate register, immovable property register, tapal register, public complaints register, stock book register, inspection register, road cut register, CM cell/mayor//commissioner complaint register, unauthorised complaint register, encroachment register, RTI register, muster roll and OSR land register.

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