Apart from commercial and private encroachments that take up footpath space, pedestrians have to also contend with underground cables jutting onto the road.
The exposed cables pose a risk to thousands of pedestrians and motorists and point to the inadequacy of ducting on city roads.
“If there is a problem with power supply, we go to the electricity board. But if internet cables stick out of the ground, who do we go to for help? We ignore it saying it belongs to the government,” said S. Rajkumar, a resident of Taramani.
There are over a dozen internet service providers in the city and most of them have their own ducts running beneath footpaths. There are around 60 km of common ducts used by these companies that also pay track rents of over Rs. 9,400 per km per year to the Chennai Corporation.
“Whenever internet companies need to provide connectivity to a large concern or a residential complex, they just pull out a cable from beneath the footpaths. As a result, our footpaths get damaged over and over again,” said a source in the highways department.
A huge bundle of cables and junction boxes lies at the junctions of CSIR Road-V.V. Koil Street and CSIR Road-Rajiv Gandhi Salai. “It has been like this for over two years. Initially, they made some chambers to accommodate the cables and covered them with cement slabs. But after some road work, the cables have come out and now lie in the open,” said Rajukmar.
Orange-coloured cables and their plastic encasing take up footpath space along several major roads including on Rajiv Gandhi Salai (popularly known as OMR), Grand Southern Trunk Road, West Avenue in Tiruvanmiyur, Greenways Salai and G.N. Chetty Road in T. Nagar.
“I have noticed the cables during my morning walk and I just walk around them. Many of us usually avoid walking on the footpaths as they are riddled with far more encroachments than the roads,” said Sridharan, a resident of Rangarajapuram.
Corporation officials said ducts were being provided wherever feasible while relaying roads, especially the cement concrete ones. “Otherwise, there is no separate provision for creating common ducts on existing roads,” said an official.