Pedestrians wade through waterlogged subway in total darkness.

The morning rush hour on the first working day of this week turned out to be a harrowing experience for several thousand pedestrians using the subway at Tambaram.

In the absence of power supply, the spare diesel generator set did not function for reasons known only to officials of the State Highways Department, which is in charge of the subway’s maintenance. Pedestrians had to wade in the dark through stagnant rain water mixed with sewage.

The National Highways Authority of India constructed the 50-metre long pedestrian subway at a cost of around Rs. 3 crore in 2005, but ever since there have been some teething problems. Though rain water seeping into subways is common, the problem is acute in Tambaram, commuters said.

P. Viswanathan of Chitlapakkam said in the absence of power supply, even the generator did not work. No emergency lamps have been installed inside the subway, he pointed out. While young men managed to scale over the median to avoid getting wet, women and elderly were the sufferers. Tambaram Municipal sources said they had requested the State government to hand over the subway maintenance to them as the Highways Department did not fulfil its duties. On a number of occasions, especially during power supply disruptions, the municipal staff had to step in with machines to pump out the water.

Meanwhile, the officials of the Highways Department said the subway’s maintenance came under the purview of Chennai City Roads Division. They were unable to operate the stand by diesel generator sets due to a technical fault. They assured all the problems would be attended to and soon that there will be no room for complaints.

More In: Downtown | Chennai