Chennai

Darkness rules footoverbridge at Chennai Central

Unlit and unsafe.

Unlit and unsafe.   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

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Commuters feel unsafe using the facility after evening. Pleas for permanent lights go unheeded

The foot overbridge (FOB) connecting Park Railway station and Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. MGR Central railway station (Chennai Central) across the Poonamallee High Road, was a sought-after commuter facility, after its inauguration four years ago. But this key commuter facility is plunged in darkness and is avoided after sunset. If at all, commuters use the FOB, they have to rely on their own torchlight.

The FOB was built four years ago by the Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL) to help pedestrians safe the busy and congested Poonamallee High Road. A four-decade-old pedestrian subway was demolished for the metro rail work. Escalators were installed on both sides of the bridge a few years ago for the benefit of senior citizens and the differently-abled. However, the absence of lights (even the temporary ones went kaput a few months ago), commuters feel the facility is unsafe.

“The bridge is totally dark forcing and we have to depend on torch lights. Women commuters choose to avoid the FOB and cross the road near Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. With the opening of the Metro Rail services and the widening of the Poonamallee High Road, this stretch is busier than ever. It is risky to cross the road but we have no other choice,” says K. Priya, a commuter from Triplicane.

Those commuters who prefer to walk on the FOB go in small groups, especially women travellers, to ensure their safety. No police personnel or patrol vehicles are found near the FOB. Petty crimes including chain-snatching and cell phone robbery have been reported on the bridge. “The thieves take advantage of the crowd and the darkness. There are no CCTV cameras installed to monitor the movement of people. Even for the cameras to do their job, there needs to be light,” says another commuter.

Commuters’ repeated pleas to the State Highways which is in charge of the maintenance of Poonamalle High Road, and the Southern Railway to install permanent lights seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

When contacted, a State Highways official promised to inspect the facility and take steps to install LED lights on the FOB.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 7:27:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/darkness-rules-footoverbridge-at-chennai-central/article29785565.ece

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