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Updated: July 8, 2013 17:45 IST
RIGHT TO WALK

Pedestrians are our priority: Chennai Corporation Commissioner

A. Srivathsan
Comment (25)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Vikram Kapur, Commissioner, Chennai Corporation.
Vikram Kapur, Commissioner, Chennai Corporation.

Many readers have enthusiastically participated in the Right To Walk Campaign and shared their concerns,and suggestions to improve pavements in the city. Vikram Kapur, Commissioner, Chennai Corporation spoke to The Hindu on the subject

Readers have expressed frustration about persisting encroachments and the poor maintenance of pavements. What stops the Corporation from removing them?

Regarding encroachments, permanent ones such as fences and flowerbeds do not require any notice for removal. We have directed our officers to clear them. We will take strict action against officials who fail to implement this.

Many property owners have built steep ramps cutting across pavements. Local officers will dismantle and help redesign them so that vehicles can move in without disturbing the pavements.

Regarding temporary encroachments such as stalls, our strategy is to remove them relentlessly so that it becomes unviable for shop owners to put set up such structures in the future. We are short-staffed and there are interferences in our work. We are attending to them.

Maintenance?

Wherever there is no follow up on a complaint, I request the residents to bring it to the attention of senior officials. They can also approach their respective councillors. We have to sensitise our officials and certainly take action on those who do not follow up on complaints.

So far, there was no separate maintenance budget. Local officers who have to repair or replace a manhole have to seek orders from the headquarters. We have changed this. Annual maintenance funds of up to Rs. 5 lakh are now available for every ward to use without any sanction from the central office.

Would the Corporation consider a public audit of local officers’ performance in their appraisals? This may enable diligent response.

At present, we have no public audit of local officials’ performances. In the current set-up, we cannot dismiss or transfer an official just because he or she is low on public responsiveness. It is also difficult to establish this. However, we are not shy about taking action or charging negligent officials.

Is there a comprehensive survey of the condition of roads?

We take care of more than 30,000 roads. Surveying them is a humongous task. To start with, we have taken 71 bus routes, surveyed them and even mapped underground utilities. We will do the other roads soon.

What are the proposals for improving pavements?

From now on, there will be more space for pavements. As per earlier standards, a 7-metre space was set aside for a two-lane carriageway. This is an over-design. We are reducing it to 5.5 metres. Extra space gained will be added to the pavements. In future, the width of the carriageway will be uniform and that of pavements will vary – additional space on roads will be added to pavements.

Second, the level of road and pavements will be fixed and never change. Levels will not be raised every time the road is re-laid.

We are taking 448 bus routes for improvement and the interior roads later. We are low on pavements now, but we are on the right track to improve them

Time-frame?

We will finish 71 of the 448 roads this year. In another three years, we would have done most of the roads.

What about street vendors?

We are guided by the Court-appointed committee. Once we have a State-level street vendor policy, we will implement it.

Can civic groups play a more active role in maintaining pavements?

We are open to ideas. Civic groups can approach us if they have any plans. Citizen groups should also keep vigil and put pressure on offenders on their streets.

Talk Back

We invite readers to participate in this campaign. You can email pictures of bad pavements (size not more than 1.5 MB) to myright@thehindu.co.in

Please send a picture of yourself.

In the email, please give your name, contact information, location of the pavement, description of the issue and action required.

Your pictures will be posted on www.facebook.com/chennaicentral and will also be considered for publication in the newspaper.

Website: http://thne.ws/mychennai

Twitter: @chennaicentral; Hashtag: #righttowalk

More In: Chennai | News

Encouraging words Mr.Commissioner. But will have to wait and watch for
results. It is not an easy task but not difficult to achieve. with
collective effort of officials and public it is possible. Pedestrians
across the world gets first priority. Chennai do not have proper
pedestrian pavements, crossings and no respect given for pedestrians
by vehicle users. In overseas countries where long lasting and strong
reusable type bricks are usedin pavements with concrete borders. These
are customizable to future layout change without breaking it. so no
wastage of money and a good cost effective solution. Corporation
should set a global vision, standards and implement such effective
infrastructure options to make chennai really a global city. Repeated
repairs on same pavement again only increases costs and public
inconveninece. Public need to act with a sense of belonging (Namma
chennai) and obey set corporation rules. Monitoring on encroachments
and heavy penalties be imposed on offenders.

from:  Sadasivan
Posted on: Jul 7, 2013 at 08:43 IST

Commissioner's comments are theoretical and has said what he is supposed to say. Every Govt official talks the same way as if they are doing their job but others are not doing. The interview has no relevance to what happens actually later or what action is taken. There is are no foot paths at all in Chennai. Every foot path is occupied by street vendors, garages, tea shops, parked vehicles, encroachments by shops etc. No one is able to walk on footpath and every street vendor says "MY FOOTPATH MY RIGHT TO OCCUPY". No one knows who is responsible. Chennai Corporation makes foot paths for vendors and shop keepers and not for public to walk.

from:  poovannan
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 22:35 IST

While the occcupation of the pavements by others is a concern what about the occupation by the Corporation in the form of blue coloured garbage collectors, TANGEDCO'S numerous distribution transformers and the small and medium sized temples are also obstructions to the public. Can the respective authorities do something about these?

from:  K Kannan
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 20:29 IST


PONDY BAZAR footpaths
meant for pedestrians are now used for
shops for street vendors ( more than half the width ).

Politics ?
Corruption ?
Similarly many other footpaths maladies in chennai city.
So many other civic and sanitation maladies.
Decentralise industries and provide jobs and
motivation for people to move out of chennai and see the magic..
SORRY STATE OF AFFAIRS IN CHENNAI....and INDIA...

from:  vinod nair
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 20:07 IST

"From now on, there will be more space for pavements." - for what? for the share autos to use the space to handle passengers more effectively? Already bus stands are lost to share autos and regular auto's and not a single step to recover them from the illegal occupants.

And please make public atleast 7 of the 71 finished roads so people can really check the status and feel nice that something is really happening.

But thanks to THE HINDU for taking this up so the concerned authorities wont think that "no-one cares why we care?"...

from:  PSMAYO
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 18:44 IST

Dear Commisioner,
As a Transportation Engineer and presently a Project Manager of A Regional
Municipality in
Ontario, Canada, I would like to note that from a safety standpoint the Transpotation
Research Board suggests that the optimum width of a 2 lane City arterials shall be a
minimum of 6.6m width (3.3m min. per lane). The highway/freeway lane width min. shall be
3.5m per lane to accommodate vehicles at higher speed. I appreciate the efforts to in
salvaging the space to provide pedestrian sidewalk, but not by increasing risk in vehicle
traffic. In 1990's our justification to take away the sidewalk had been that sidewalks are
occupied by hawkers and not used by pedestrians.
So we seem to take a continuously deteriorating approach. A sustainable approach is to
salvage/acquire additional right of way to provide at least safe min width lanes and sidewalk.

from:  Mani. R
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 18:13 IST

This is a big joke. You must be kidding. I will give one year time and
after that let us see how the Corporation of Chennai would have
completed the task or the business sharks who have destroyed T.Nagar,
Puusaivakam and many more in Chennai would allow the Corporation to
enforce the rules.

from:  Ravishanker
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 17:28 IST

There should be a community hall set-up in each ward. A gathering should be held every month with the ward councilors and the public and lodge their complaints and post their opinions.

from:  Sindhu
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 15:24 IST

I stay in Manapakkam and to take my kids for classes is a nightmare. It is with
prayers that we manage everyday. The Manapakkam main road has no footpath at
all. The main road shops have mud dumped along the road from all the usual
repair works and all the vehicles park on the road itself causing further concerns.
It is worse after it turns towards L&T service centre. There are several
encroachments. The remaining part of the road has some posts and iron fencing
over it. I really do not know if something would be done. This may remain as a
platform for people to post their comments. The officials are aware of the needs
of the public but having the authority are unable to do much, so we citizens just
keep our hope that sometime something will happen or just post a comment to
express our inability to do much.

from:  Padma
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 15:04 IST



while exnora says that it will safe guard they themselves have
encroached the platform in teynempet in the name of greenery at GRT
Grand hotel area . why they should eat that space and how exnora can do
that with the assistance of the hotel.

from:  c.s.baskar
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 14:59 IST

Mr. Vikram Kapur obviously lives on an other planet not Chennai.
He is of course a consummate administrator. Well versed in empty management jargon.

from:  Ramu
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 14:00 IST

Look at the answers. It is clear that there is not much real commitment or sincerity in his words. These are answers prepared to give to the media and nothing else. Unless there is somebody who really believes that pedestrians have a right of road sits there, nothing much is going to change and I can say Mr. Kapur is definitely not one of them.

We need to totally redesign our roads and pavements so that pedestrians and cyclists can move without fear. Large scale private companies aslo should be made responsible for improving these situations. With their support, get these changes done in an year than plan to do 20 percent this year and promise to do 80 percent in the next two.

I think the IT companies alone should be able to finance such changes necessary.

from:  Narayanan N
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 13:52 IST

Having road facing commercial property is licence to usurp pavement
and roads in the front. This may not be lawful but actual practice.
Last week i parked my car in designated parking area in mylapore
northmada street. The place is manned by a parking fee collector and
within 100 feet are 2 autoparking ticket machines. Infact there are
information boards stating that place is not for two wheeler
parking,only for four wheelers. I was threatened by a recently
established restaurant(GSS),daring me to park there,with dire
consequence of my car being found damaged on return.I pretended to be
brave to collect token with car number printed.They claim to have the
road on lease officially. They have also removed the recently laid
platforms to enable entry and exit of their supply vans in to the
restaurant.The parking lots and platforms are completely barricaded
and usurped in places where the civic authorities have taken efforts
to provide them. We all lack civic sense. Strong forums are needed

from:  Sureshkumar
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 13:33 IST

The Hindu should also project widespread damages done to the environment by the infamous Couvam(s) running in and around the city. The river clearly reflects the civic culture and 'love' the successive Govts shower on the people, that rules the state. In spite of the city producing max number of intellectuals in the country, hardly 10% stay in the city only bcz of its very poor state. The 'star' campaign may yield a good result. Probably, they can themselves initiate cleansing work with the help of some outside agency with the help of Govt.

from:  Sasi
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 13:27 IST

Please do remember that encroachments on pavements are mostly backed by
political parties or, by local goondas.
Therefore, in practice, your average citizen/local area commite is powerless to do
anything. The Corporation has to set up special anti encroachment units, who have
move ceaseless in shifts across the zones, and keep clearing encroachments as they
rise. There is really no other way.
I say this through experience born out of 50 years of living in various cities in India.

from:  T N Kumar
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 13:21 IST

I thank The Hindu to give me this opportunity to post my grievance.
The stretch on TTK Road between Alwarpet signal and Ambujammal turning
has no platform space since the flyover on TTK road was constructed
years ago. Now with increased traffic on this road going north, it is
impossible to venture on foot for people like me.

from:  Neela Sivaraman
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 13:10 IST

Wherever an initiative is delayed for want of manpower, like survey of roads mentioned in this article local associations can team up with corporation staff to complete them in time..it may be 30,000 roads for entire corporation but only few per ward..

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 12:53 IST

I reside in Kurinjinagar,Perungudi,Chennai and walk to my office at World Noni Research
Foundation,near Prince Info City,two km away.Recently pedestrian paths are earmarked,the
same is occupied by vendors and vehicles.There are potholes in many places.Many times
vehicles especially bikes and cars come in wrong directions.The stretch from Kurinjinagar to
First cross street is extremely unfriendly to pedestrians with potholes and untarred
roads.Involvement of people's police/students/ senior citizens to direct the walkers and
control traffic will be desirable.Road side parking of vehicles near IT offices needs to be
curbed.The Church road in Perungudi is always jammed with vehicles and vendors.Parking
of vehicles is an area to be solved through planning.Mushrooming of all types of vehicles and
their illegal parking lead to accidents.A study on accidents of pedestrians may be
undertaken.The model of Marina Beach for pedestrians may be revisited to suit to other parts
of the city.

from:  Dr K V Peter
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 12:28 IST

What is needed is action, action, efficient action, quick action and productive action.
We have heard senior officials and politicians talking, promising, more talking and
forever talking. I hope the Hindu continues with its crusade until some real action is
seen. I am sure all these people have been to the Western countries and seen what
needs to be done. They just need to apply what they have seen.

from:  Sri
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 12:09 IST

Dear Sir:

I lodged two complaints with the Corporation through their portal -
Complaint No 409 FKD and 4550 MN. The first pertains to removal of
debris left behind by the Corporation Contractor when a portion of our
road was relaid with concrete. The second pertains to the maintenance
of storm water drains and removal of silt taken out of the drains.

The first compliant is yet to be attended and the second I abandoned.
It is not the Corporation is not trying to maintain the roads. It is
just that the civil body lacks directions and thereby wasting money
without seeing concrete results.
1, There does not appear to be any follow up supervision by the
officials after award of work.
2.The quality of work is not checked
3. Technical specifications are not given at the time of execution of
work or not verified during the execution.
4. The electrical and telephone cables are laid in a casual and
haphazard manner. While laying our road the telephone cable was cut.
Restoration took a week.

from:  R.S.Mani
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 10:50 IST

Re-building pavements in Chennai or any other city is an impossible task to take up. Pavements have been systematically destroyed in the name of improving raodways. The old pavements should have been removed and pavements relaid with the recycled old material in order to keep the level of road surface same. At entrances to homes and other buildings,pavements drop suddenly upto one foot. There were trees and manhole caps sticking above pavement. In some places the width of pavement was less than thirty inches. Courts are concerned with street venders living on the pavements but not the tax paying public.To rebuild the pavements city needs funds equivalent to laying roads throughout the city! City can not expand converting single family homes into apartments without roads encroaching pavements. That is the reality.

from:  vijayaraghavan
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 10:09 IST

In many places , road side (once pavement ) have been handed over to
shops for exclusive parking .They put up chains coir etc to demarkate
the pavement /parking area. Examples: Nalli in Pinchala Subramaniam
road, Pottis in GN Chetty rd.
In Mahalingapuram huge containers are kept by corporation in
pavements , see near MLM hall, ayyappan temple gate and middle of Lady
madhava road.
mayor, Zonal officer and even minister should go round each division
and get on-site data and give instructions.

from:  DGopajkrishnan
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 09:34 IST

The Commissioner seems to be active now, after THE HINDU has taken up the issue in a big way. Better late than never. But about "contacting senior officials", the Commissioner should lead by example. Any number of e-mails sent to him remain un-responded and no action taken whatosever !! Then what can we say about lower rung officials ?

from:  V. Vedagiri
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 09:32 IST

Great initiative and follow up by Hindu.

Hope there is a long term strategy by Hindu to keep this going.

Here are my ideas around a long term plan.

Apart from Hindu taking the public needs with the higher officials,
Hindu should help the public meet with their local ward officials
consistently so that the local public can keep the momentum going.

It clearly is a multi year initiative and public as beneficiaries need
to pitch in with their time and effort for collaborating with their
local officials.

Hindu should promote ward committees to be formed by public and help
them meet with their local ward officials to get their needs
addresssed.

Whenever there is success out of these initiatives, Hindu can help the
local public celebrate their collaboration success with ward officials
via reporting in the print media for other ward public to start such
initiatives and it can really become a long term sustainable movement
and Hindu can continue to provide a supporting platform.



from:  ambi
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 08:57 IST

Chennai Corporation should have a facebook page like the one CCTP have wherein citizens can post their complaints and if possible take pictures of pavements with exact location to which the corporation officials take actions and post the action taken on the Facebook page. Involve the citizens.

Secondly I have seen Pune Municipality removing such encroachments ruthlessly overnight
I think bit just needs a political will. The other problem the road side eateries pose is people waiting by for food, parking their vehicles haphazardly causing the traffic to move slowly due to such parking.

from:  Rohit Chitnavis
Posted on: Jul 6, 2013 at 06:35 IST
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