Facilities, including footpaths, pedestrian plazas and marked pedestrian crossings, have deteriorated in various parts of the Chennai Metropolitan Area. Residents’ associations have flagged the issue, demanding the removal of encroachment along footpaths and roads and the restoration of damaged footpaths.
A councillor in Anna Nagar zone said Metro Rail started demolishing buildings a week ago, and the public spaces for pedestrians had reduced, increasing the risk of accidents. The well-laid granite footpaths, which were dug up for stormwater drains, were yet to be re-laid properly in many zones, he added.
Jayaram Venkatesan, convenor of Arappor Iyakkam, said the civic agencies had dug up wide footpaths and constructed new drains. “It is a sheer waste of public money. In many places, pedestrians are forced to walk on the carriageway of roads,” he said.
N. Viswanathan, a lawyer, said: “Walkers face hurdles on Lakshmanasamy Salai, Ramasamy Salai, Kamarajar Salai and Rajamannar Salai in K.K. Nagar. The granite blocks were demolished and removed for the construction of stormwater drains and have been not re-laid yet. Moreover street vendors also encroach upon the pavement with the support of local politicians.”
The pavements in Easwaran Koil Street, near Madley Subway, in West Mambalam have not been re-laid, posing a challenge to commuters, said R. Sridharan, a commuter. “I tripped and almost fell twice. It is such a busy area so we cannot walk on the road. And, if the pavement is also in poor condition, how will commuters walk,” he asked.
In commercial areas, such as T. Nagar, Broadway and Purasawalkam, pavements have been damaged or occupied by hawkers or encroached upon by shops. At several places, the bollards installed by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) after the renovation of the footpaths have also been damaged.
V.S. Jayaraman, an office-bearer of the T. Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, said footpaths on all streets near South Usman Road had become unusable due to illegal parking and hawkers. Bollards installed on renovated pavements to stop two-wheelers had been damaged by hawkers, he said.
K. Subramaniam, a resident of Chromepet, said many streets in their neighborhood, including New Colony and Radha Nagar, had damaged footpaths. “Apart from the fact that the pavements are bad, whatever is left is also occupied by encroachments. We struggle to use the pavement, and the authorities must routinely check their condition,” he said. Residents complained about the lack of any action from the traffic police or civic officials.
Highway and arterial roads
The footpaths have also been damaged in several arterial roads and highways. Arcot Road has been beset by civic issues because of Metro Rail and stormwater drain works. Civic officials have received complaints about poor quality of footpaths along arterial roads in other areas as well.
Social activist V. Santhanam said footpaths had become a necessity on busy arterial roads like GST Road and Rajendra Prasad Road. However, they had been damaged owing to digging by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation. Residents also highlighted the need to create proper parking bays for buses on roads for unhindered traffic flow.
A senior official of the GCC said the work on restoration of roads and footpaths would begin in a fortnight. “The footpaths that have been damaged are also considered for repair. We cannot spend too lavishly for the footpaths as our main aim is to make the damaged footpaths easy for pedestrian movement, but at the same time, we have to find cost effective solutions. We will be repairing them in a phased manner,” he added.
“The residential associations can also bring it to the notice of the councillor or the zonal officer, so that the projects are incorporated in the estimation stage itself,” the official added.