Diff-abled Friendly Infrastructure at 7 Subways

With the CM announcing that the city will get 6 new pedestrian subways, City Express takes a look at some of the most used, existing subways to find just how utilitarian they are, and some of their shortcomings as well

Published: 17th July 2014 08:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th July 2014 08:05 AM   |  A+A-


CHENNAI: In a move that will offer some relief to the disabled members of the community, the Corporation has plans to include disabled friendly infrastructure while constructing the seven new subways announced by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

Corporation officials indicated that facilities such as ramps will be included in the subway plans. Officials also noted that a stakeholder’s meet to seek public opinion on the matter will be organised in a fortnight’s time.

However, members of the disabled community were not optimistic about the civic body’s plans stating that providing such facilities was mandatory under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.

“The Corporation announcing that they have plans makes it sound like otherwise we would have to make do without them,” said S Nambu Rajan, State Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC).

“Many State government buildings, including the Secretariat, are unfriendly for disabled people. Ramps, if present, are steep. And most complexes don’t have sliding doors or disabled-friendly toilets,” he said.

Nambu Rajan was also of the opinion that the `23 crore budget allocated for the completion of the project would hardly cover the construction costs for the subways, let alone for the installtion of disability friendly infrastructure within them.

In the pipeline

Of the proposed 7 subways, five, namely the ones near Gandhi Statue, Gangadheeswarar Temple in Purasawalkam, Ayanavaram-Konnur High Road, NSK Salai near Vadapalani bus depot, Kodambakkam near Meenakshi Engineering College, come under the Corporationi

Two others – Near the Metro Rail Station at Arumbakkam and GST Road at Alandur, will be handled by the Highways Department

Renovation work on existing subways planned in current year

Four subways in the city come under the Corporation of Chennai’s direct control

Two of them are near Ezhilagam and Kannagi statue on Marina Beach

Two others, one at Chennai Beach Station and the other near Tondiarpet TB Hospital, are under review

Location: Near Labour statue on Kamaraj Salai

Maintenance: Corporation of Chennai

User Rating: 4

Complaints: Hawkers trading their wares, alongside beach visitors have considerably reduced the walking space. So navigation difficulties increase at rush hour.

Thumbs up: Well lit and fairly neat

Hawker’s paradise

Lonely passages, dirty walls and the stench of urine might be appalling to any subway user in the city, but there is one in which none of these stereotypical characters is found. The subway across Kamaraj Salai leading to the Labour Statue is in itself a reception to visitors and tourists thronging the Marina. While colourful keychains and trinkets on makeshift stalls welcome the subway user at the entrance, small shops further inside selling ice creams and mobile phone accessories have turned this walkway into a market place of sorts, in effect making navigating through the subway difficult.

Location: Walltax Road

Maintenance: Tamil Nadu Highways Department

User Rating: 3

Complaints: Though the subway is well maintained and looks clean compared to others, it is rarely used by pedestrians. Moreover, local drunkards use the nearly deserted subway as a boozing spot. 

Thumbs up: Acts as a shelter for homeless people in the locality, at night

All-day bar

The subway on the Walltax Road located 50 metres away from the Government Hospital junction, rarely serves its purpose as pedestrians prefer to use the zebra-crossing at the junction which is 50 metres away.

The subway built in 1979 is well maintained and is free of the stench of urine which is common in most of the city’s subways. Except for the two vendors at the northern and southern entrance, it throws a deserted look. Hence local drunkards utilise it as a boozing spot during day, and at night it serves as shelter for the homeless.

Location: Central Station Subway

Maintenance: Tamil Nadu Highways Department

User Rating: 6

Complaints: Hawkers by the dozen. Hardly any space for pedestrians during peak hours which forces them to cross followiing the main road signal, which is chaotic during morning and evening.

Thumbs up: Enhanced connectivity to the bus stand opposite, as well as people coming from Park Station and Central stations. They get bus connectivity to all regions from the bus stand next to the subways on both ends.

Overcrowded & in need of clean-up

Central station has everything moving around it infrastructure wise, the subway next to Central Station is a bubbling hub for hawkers selling everything from fruits to stationery, and so on. Most passengers like Sarvanan find, “The vendors are a strain during evening hours, when people are moving to and fro towards Central, and have to battle double rows of crowds. This is apart from evening shoppers and patients flocking GH on the other end. The walls are not cleaned often, with age old remnants of spit, paan and garbage nestled in nooks and crannies of the subway and its exterior.

Location: Anna Salai-Wallajah Salai junction

Maintenance: Corporation of Chennai

User Rating: 7

Complaints: Security not adequate, especially when there is no power

Thumbs up: Close to police booths and patrol vehicle. Good connectivity across a very busy traffic junction

Beware of the drunks

The three-way subway connecting footpaths on either side of each road at the Wallajah Salai-Anna Salai intersection is a much-needed one considering the heavy traffic at this junction. Added to that, due to the Metro Rail work nearby, the subway is an important asset to ease pedestrian congestion on the roads. K Michael, a 64-year-old frail gent, mans the subway and ensures the safety of the commuters. Sitting on his stool at the Anna Salai entrance, he says that though he hasn’t received any complaints from pedestrians, he himself has been a victim of violence at the hands of drunkards. A police patrol vehicle positioned near the Wallajah Road entry of the subway ensures that protection is only a loud hoot away.

Location: North Beach Road (Beach Station)

Maintenance: Tamil Nadu Highways Department

User Rating: 6

Complaints: Though the subway is heavily used, as it is located in a commercial area, it is ill-maintained. Most of the subway space is occupied by vendors and beggars. The stairs and the flooring need immediate renovation.

Thumbs up: Serves the purpose, helps a lot of suburban train commuters and people visiting the Collector’s office to cross the always busy North Beach Road.

Prayers for better stairs

With hundreds of people crossing the North Beach Road every time a train arrives at the Beach Station, the subway located near the Collector’s office is one among the heavily crowded subways in the city.

Sambath Kumar, a student of Madras Law College, who uses the subway on a daily basis says that it is of great use to him as he requires crossing the road twice a day to reach the Beach Station. He adds that it will take at least 10 minutes to cross the busy North Beach Road without the subway.

However, senior citizens and handicapped people claim that climbing dilapidated stairs is a difficult task. Moreover, the best portion of the subway where the floors and stairs are in good condition are occupied by vendors and beggars, making it more crowded during peak hours.

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