It has been nearly a month since three-and-a-half-year-old K. Dinesh died after falling into an open stormwater drain on CSIR road. But, his grandfather still keeps a watch for open drains on the pavement – he hopes to warn anyone else who might suffer the same fate. Many of the lids are on the verge of breaking due to the weight of cars parked on the sidewalk.
CSIR road, off Old Mahabalipuram Road, is lined with government establishments and software companies and the IT tech park Ascendas. While the pavement on one side of the road is entirely occupied by two-wheelers, the facility on the other side is dotted with cars. Vehicles occupy nearly 600 metres of pedestrian space along the road.
“The weight of the vehicles weakens the manholes of the stormwater drains,” said Ganapathy, Dinesh’s grandfather. He and Dinesh’s father Kumar are now concerned about the safety of other children who play on the stretch. “My son would not have died, if the manhole was closed. Many people go for morning walks in the area. Some bring their children along and there is always the risk of someone falling in,” said Kumar.
Though the Chennai Corporation replaced many of the manhole lids, traffic police personnel said some of them are kept open in case any work has to be done. “We insist that they close the openings once the work is completed, but they do not pay heed. Open manholes and parking have forced residents to walk on the roads and this can lead to accidents,” said a traffic police officer.
Cops tow away the bikes once in a while, but the parking soon resumes. “The bikes belong to IT employees. The parking of vehicles has even blocked the entrance to a Corporation park nearby. Some children even staged a road roko condemning this, but it had no impact,” said S. Kadiresan, a resident of Peeli Amman Koil Street.
Traffic police officers also said that they impose a fine of Rs.260 for parking on pavements. “Officials of the IT firms assured us that they had arranged a cab for employees but the latter continue to use two-wheelers,” an officer said.
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Keywords: IT corridor, pavements issue, My Chennai My Right, Right to walk, Chennai Corporation, The Hindu campaign, The Hindu's campaign, pedestrians, Chennai pavements, pavements in Chennai, pedestrian safety in Chennai, footpaths in Chennai