Visually-impaired R. Raja escaped death two months ago. On his way to university, the research scholar in Tamil Literature stumbled upon a political party’s hoarding on a footpath near Kannagi statue near Marina beach.
“I did not know there was a hoarding on the footpath. So I fell on the road. A bus came to a screeching halt a few inches beside me,” said Mr. Raja.
“Footpaths should be free of barriers. We request the officials concerned to take immediate action,” said Mr. Raja at a walk for better pavements, organised by Exnora International, in West Mambalam on Saturday.
Persons with visual impairment and blindfolded activists walked the stretch to create awareness on the need for better pavements in the city.
“We were scared to walk blindfolded. Every vehicle that passed by created a sense of fear. I now understand how challenging it is for persons with visual disability to walk independently on a road that lacks adequate footpaths,” said M. Surya, a civil services aspirant who walked blindfolded during the rally.
“It was very tough to negotiate the stretch blindfolded. Vehicles parked haphazardly on footpaths are a cause of concern for pedestrians,” said V.C. Aarya, another participant in the walk.
A number of IAS aspirants at the walk including, V.Gokila Devi, stressed the need for coordination among various civic agencies for better footpaths.
Another visually impaired participant, M. Nagarajan, pointed to the uneven surfaces of footpaths in the city. “Stretches near the entrance to IIT-Madras are bad. Many footpaths near educational institutions are inadequate. This bothers visitors,” said Mr. Nagarajan.
“Footpaths near Anna Centenary Library in Kotturpuram have to be cleared of hoardings and banners. We are not able to walk because of such hindrances. We want to be independent,” said Mr. Raja.