Subpar upkeep keeps Chennai subways at bay

CHENNAI: 25-year-old Vidya Rajendran prefers to brave the traffic and jump over barricades than use the pedestrian subway adjoining the Chennai Central railway station. The unbearable stench and alcohol bottles strewn all around the poorly illuminated subway keep pedestrians at bay.

“Most people use the subway for anti-social activities than to cross the road. It is very unsafe to even go near the subway after dusk. It is just a waste of tax payers’ money,” she said.

Subpar upkeep keeps Chennai subways at bay

One of the arterial infrastructure for pedestrians, many subways in the city are in a state of neglect. Built at an estimated cost of `3.85 crore and opened just a couple of years ago, the subway connecting East and West Tambaram is also a picture of apathy. With absolutely no illumination, public, especially women, are hesitant to use it even in the mornings.

TNIE visited the subway there, maintained by the Southern Railway, and found a lot of broken alcohol bottles, garbage strewn everywhere, and a leaking roof. “Numerous incidents of groping have also been reported here,” said R Sivani, a resident of Tambaram. The subway was primarily aimed to connect the residential localities on East Tambaram such as Ganapathy Puram and MEC Road to West Tambaram. Previously, the residents would jaywalk on the railway tracks to reach their destination. Despite the facility, most residents do the same.

Similarly, the Tambaram Sanatorium has a leaking subway with a cracked roof, unhygienic washbasins and taps, and broken steps. Commuters alleged the cracks widen by the day and at least temporary works should be taken up immediately to avert a major mishap. “To avoid having to wade through the stagnated water after rains, commuters often cross the tracks. The roof is cracked and with trains going right above it, it is very dangerous and the authorities have turned a blind eye towards the issue,” said Dayanand Krishnan, a resident of Chitlapakkam.

According to official data, work orders had been issued to repair the subway by June 2021. But, officials blame the Covid-19 situation for not carrying out the same. While this remains one part of the story, a few subways which are properly maintained with good illumination, are occupied by hawkers, on the other hand.

The subway between the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and Chennai Central has its own share of troubles. Built to allow pedestrians to easily cross the highly-congested Poonamallee Road, it is now occupied by vendors selling fruits and flowers, turning it into a one-way passage for pedestrians. Subway near the Beach station towards George Town also has a similar tale to narrate.However, for most of these issues, officials have only responded saying the maintenance could not happen due to the pandemic and that it will be taken up immediately.