If the Boat Club Road area is a walkers’ paradise, Kodambakkam Road in West Mambalam may well be called a walkers’ misery. There are no footpaths here either. But then, footpaths don’t rank high in the priority list of the residents of this area.
“Forget footpaths. We don’t have a proper street here. And this has been so for the last twenty years. Nobody listens to our complaints,” laments Bhanumathi Mohan, who once used to live in the area and is passing by. Her family left the area as conditions became unbearable. “They have turned this road into a pub. Women can’t walk through this place. People vomit and urinate here,” says Mohan.
“Just yesterday, a woman walking near me got hit by a car. I am scared to walk now,” says Bhuvaneshwari, an elderly woman, as a milling crowd dodges “motorists who drive as if they own the road.” She is one of the residents who have gathered around a hand pump, the only source of water in the area. The hand pump is where a footpath should be.
“Corporation workers come and clean this place, but people keep dirtying it,” says M. Bhanumathi, a domestic help, who lives on the street. According to the local councillor, 12 Corporation workers remove the garbage accumulated every day. But, residents contest this claim, saying a mere six workers tend to the entire stretch. “The councillor does not heed our complaints. Politicians come here only during the elections,” says a local shop owner.
“I am doing what I can. Vehicles going to Tambaram take this short-cut road. This has resulted in an increase in traffic. We have to talk to authorities like MTC and CMDA before taking action as widening the footpath will narrow the road,” says N. Baskaran, the local councillor. When the councillors representing areas such as Boat Club Road can keep the streets clean, why can’t he? Baskaran says there can be no comparison between the two. “Over there, 5,000 sq feet is inhabited by 5 people, but here, 22 people are crammed into every 600 sq feet.”
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