No room to walk: Roads in Madurai tell a harrowing tale 

Speaking to TNIE, a school teacher from BB Kulam, one R Selvam (28) said the city requires an overall infrastructural change.

Published: 20th October 2021 10:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th October 2021 10:31 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MADURAI: The plight of pedestrians often remains unheard amid the back-breaking journey on city roads that are riddled with potholes. Either most of the lanes lack pedestrian walkway or it is encroached upon for parking vehicles and establishing makeshift shops.

Speaking to TNIE, a school teacher from BB Kulam, one R Selvam (28) said the city requires an overall infrastructural change. "Most of the city roads are narrow and do not have a pedestrian lane. The root cause of the problem lies in non adherence to footpath width as prescribed by the Indian Roads Congress (IRC) standards. Though corporation workers repair the main roads once in a while, they always fail to stick to the standards," he said. There are pedestrian platforms in a few areas including Chokkikulam, Goripalayam, Kamarajar Salai, Simmakkal and Vilakkuthoon. However, he added they are damaged or encroached upon by shopkeepers.

In areas around Meenakshi Amman Temple, a major shopping zone in the city, the lack of parking facility gives pedestrians a hard time. As part of Smart City Mission Programme, over `41.96 crore was spent on building a multi-level car parking facility in the Old Central Market region near Meenakshi Amman temple. "It is of no use for anyone," noted a resident R Saravanan (45), adding, "If it has been planned and executed properly, it would have solved the traffic congestion and parking problems. Encroachments by street vendors on pedestrian lanes would have been the only issue to deal with then."

Saravanan further suggested the need for public awareness on road safety rules is the need of the hour. "People here cross the roads wherever they like. The share-autos stop and start from any point. The pedestrians do not walk on the platform even if there is one," he added.

There are around 12,000 registered street vendors in the city. According to the President for the elected members of Street Vendors Committee, G Mohan, once the vendor registers with Madurai Corporation, they are free to set up makeshift shops anywhere in the city. "Since there is no vending zone demarcated exclusively for street vendors, we often end up setting up shops in pedestrian lanes," he pointed out.

Highly-placed officials told TNIE there is no proposal to repair the damaged pedestrian pathways or to lay new ones at present. "However, a team of officials have been constituted recently to demarcate vending zones. A report in this regard is likely to be submitted soon and the vending zones are to be set up in the next three months," said the officials, adding that the pedestrian issue could be looked into only after allocating vending zones and solving parking problems.


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