Thiruvananthapuram's first women-friendly space — Neermathalam

Corporation sets aside C10 lakh for Neermathalam project in the budget
The construction work at Manaveeyam Veedhi is fast progressing. It is expected to be reopen for traffic in April | B P Deepu
The construction work at Manaveeyam Veedhi is fast progressing. It is expected to be reopen for traffic in April | B P Deepu

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The first-ever women-friendly space — ‘Neermathalam’ — would come up at Manaveeyam Veedhi, the designated cultural corridor of the capital. The introduction of spaces where women can feel free and safe is one of the major announcements in the corporation budget for 2022-23.

As part of the initiative, the corporation is planning to set up women-friendly spaces in various parts of the city. The assistance of pink police, She toilets and She autos are some of the features of the women-friendly space. The civic body has set aside `10 lakh for the Neermathalam project in the current budget.

According to sources, the space and the cultural corridor would be thrown open to the public in April. Corporation secretary Binu Francis told TNIE that the civic body is in the process of identifying stretches in the capital which can be transformed into women-friendly spaces.

“Manaveeyam Veedhi is one stretch we have identified as the project can be implemented without any delay. The assistance of the pink police will be available round the clock and women can spend time at the stretch freely and safely. The services of electric women-driven autos would be made available. In addition, Manaveeyam Veedhi would be turned into a venue for showcasing women-oriented programmes,” said Francis.

Shylaja P Ambu, a theatre and folk music artist who has been actively doing programmes at Manaveeyam Veedhi for the past 19 years, hailed the decision to make the cultural corridor women friendly. “There are no designated spaces for women in the city and women are constantly under the surveillance of everyone. Women should feel safe outside just like at home. Such spaces would be a boon where women can independently go and sit and feel free,” said Shylaja.

She said Manaveeyam Veedhi is a cultural space where people, irrespective of caste, religion and gender, gather. “The space should have a breastfeeding kiosk, which is one of the major concerns for lactating mothers who are forced to stay at home because such private feeding spaces are very rare,” said Shylaja. Around 50 cultural organisations have been attached to this space and there has been a
popular demand to make this space an exclusive cultural corridor.

Traffic to be reopened in April
After months of impasse, the cultural corridor and smart road projects, taken up by Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Ltd (SCTL), is fast progressing at Manaveeyam Veedhi. The SCTL aims to upgrade the stretch to a smart road and transform it into an official cultural corridor with state-of-the-art facilities. Though the work has suffered delays, SCTL plans to complete the project by May 11.
An official associated with the project said the new streetscape design of the stretch is pedestrian dominant, universally accessible and would stress on amenities.

As part of the project, a 180-metre-long road stretch at Manaveeyam has been upgraded into a smart road by shifting utility lines underground. An official of SCTL said the pending work of the KWA, which was one of the reasons for the delay in the reopening of the stretch, has been completed.
“The work of shifting and connecting the pipeline has been completed as per schedule. The tarring work would be completed in three to four days and it would be reopened for traffic immediately. Traffic movement will not affect the cultural corridor project at the stretch,” said the official.

The cultural street will have a covered venue and amenity blocks at both ends of Manaveeyam Veedhi.
“The cultural street will have separate amenity blocks for men and women and the facilities will be disabled-friendly. The foundation work of the blocks has been completed. Roofing work is pending. The work is progressing as per the schedule and we would be able to complete the project by March 11, the deadline,” said the official.

The authorities are planning to designate a space for food kiosks, set up a street library, seating arrangements for the public, and a designated lawn for exercising. The cultural corridor project is part of the 100-day programme of the LDF government.

The cultural street project is estimated to cost around Rs 1.25 crore. The demand to make Manaveeyam Veedhi a cultural corridor has been pending for long. The space is used to host umpteen events throughout the year, but the lack of basic amenities and lighting has been an issue.

SCTL approved the design of the cultural street in 2019 after several rounds of consultations with the stakeholders. As per the design, the road carriageway is divided into two. One half will be for cultural activities and the other for traffic.

Cultural corridor

The corporation plans to set up severa women-friendly spaces in various parts of the city

SCTL plans to complete the project by May 11

Manaveeyam Veedhi and cultural corridor will open for public in April

The new-design is pedastrin friendly with accessibe amenities

The SCTL plans to convert the stretch to a smart road and transform it into an official cultural corridor with state-of-the-art facilities

What’s in the plan
The cultural corridor project is expected to cost around D1.25 crore. There will be space for food kiosks, a street library, seating arrangements, and lawn for excercising at the corridor along with a covered venue

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