For a decade now, one of the city’s oldest pedestrian subways in Tondiarpet on Tiruvottiyur High (TH) Road remains unused — not just because of its poor condition but more importantly, for fear of anti-social elements who have made the facility their own.

Built at a cost of Rs. 22 lakh, the subway was opened more than three decades ago, following a felt need of many residents as they found it difficult to cross the 30-feet-wide stretch, which was originally a 60 ft road. Today, the busy road sees a number of container lorries passing through on the route from the north to the port. The four-km-long stretch is also dotted with hundreds of commercial establishments and public facilities, including schools and hospitals.

However, frequent instances of nuisance created by the anti-social elements turned pedestrians away from the subway. Every day, dozens of pedestrians wait at the traffic signal a few yards from the subway to cross the busy stretch.

According to police records, the now-closed subway, which is plunged in darkness after sunset, is favoured by chain snatchers. “The subway has also tuned into a hideout for many who play cards, loiter around the space and some who sell ganja,” said a police officer.

Five years ago, Corporation officials had planned to provide two security guards and re-open the subway in January 2009. A tender was called for, but as the response was poor, the subway continues to be in disuse.

“Public facilities, such as subways, are prone to host anti-socials especially during the nights. Closing the subway will defeat the purpose for which the facility was built. Instead, better illumination and security personnel should be provided to ensure users’ safety,” said K. Vanitha, a resident.


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