CHENNAI: The Marina Beach could soon get a permanent ramp for use by persons with disabilities, as the city corporation is in talks with disability rights activists to make the current temporary structure permanent.
The temporary 200-metre long wooden path leading up to the sea was laid last month. As a precursor for a permanent facility, the corporation had laid a small demo pathway using a new geosynthetic material, that allows percolation of water.
However, disability rights activists said based on the feedback they had received from persons with disabilities, the ramp turned out to be lumpy during the rain, not allowing persons using wheelchairs to manoeuvre themselves.
Corporation officials told The New Indian Express that they have taken the feedback into consideration and will discuss laying the ramp with a wood-based material. "We considered using the geosynthetic material because it would not be damaged by the rains and stagnant water. This, however, may not be the case with wood-based ramps. But activists said they would like a wood-based ramp so we are considering it," said a senior corporation official.
The cost is estimated to be around Rs 2.5 crore for the wooden ramp whereas the geosynthetic material would have cost around Rs 30 lakh, said officials. Actor Sivakarthikeyan has agreed to contribute Rs 15 lakh towards the project, the officials added.
Activists said that apart from ramp infrastructure, safety aspects should also be strengthened. "There need to be trained lifeguards who are always on alert and a chair for lifeguards installed. Life jackets should be made available. The floating wheelchair, which became very popular, needs to be operated by trained swimmers. So there are many safety aspects that also need to be taken care of," said Vaishnavi Jayakumar, member of the Disability Rights Alliance.
Vaishnavi said while the city corporation had initially planned to install similar ramps in Neelankarai and Besant Nagar beaches, it is better that they focus on one for the time being, in order to ensure it is a well-rounded facility before constructing other similar ramps.