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.
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
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.
We invite readers to participate in this campaign. You can email pictures of bad pavements (size not more than 1.5 MB) to email@example.com
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.
Twitter: @chennaicentral; Hashtag: #righttowalk