In Chennai, two roads represent two worlds

Boat Club Road and Kodambakkam Road are a study in contrasts but both care little for footpaths, says Pushkal Shivam

Updated - November 16, 2021 10:05 pm IST

Published - July 08, 2013 01:42 am IST - CHENNAI:

ENCROACHMENTS BOTH: Footpaths have been gobbled up by greenery by Boat Club Road. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

ENCROACHMENTS BOTH: Footpaths have been gobbled up by greenery by Boat Club Road. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

The Boat Club Road area is a walkers’ paradise, yet barely has footpaths.

Residents have contributed to the greenery in the area by taking over the footpaths and planting trees or laying gardens on them. “I don’t call it encroachment. If we don’t do it, somebody else will. It prevents hawkers from occupying the pavements. We don’t use them anyway. The road is clean enough to walk,” responds Sushil, when asked why residents of the area have turned footpaths into manicured gardens.

“The footpaths across the city are in various states of disrepair. Concerned residents have attempted to beautify it, each in their own way, as it was far better than leaving it in that state,” adds Gopal Srinivasan, who manages the affairs of the residents’ association.

The Corporation has pitched in with its resources. Two women per street have been assigned to maintain the Boat Club Road premises. “A total of eight women maintain the entire stretch,” says the local councillor P. Usha. In addition to this, the residents’ association has hired a private agency to keep the area clean, according to Sushil.

Bounded by the Adyar River, this area connects no two places. No one comes here to go anywhere else, so there are few vehicles on the road.

The occasional motorist respects the pedestrians here as this road is not used for commutes. “The residents here get preferential treatment from the authorities, which is why it’s a pedestrian friendly stretch,” says Krishnakumar Raman, who lives nearby, as he takes a break from his daily walk. The residents, however, deny that they get preferential treatment.

Councillor P. Usha explains: “The traffic is low here and there is more space. Hence, there is scope for making it greener and attractive. This can’t be possible everywhere.”

The well-heeled from across the city come here to walk and also rub shoulders with the residents. Sudhakar Muramalla, a businessman who stays in a neighbouring area, is a regular. “There is no traffic, no commercial activity. And unlike other areas, the garbage is cleared regularly here,” he says.

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