September 20, 2008

Walking Classes Unite

Here is an opportunity to tell the city Corporation why it should respect its citizens.

Citizens who walk to exercise, to shop, to run errands and to go and meet friends and relatives.Keep a date this Sunday with a group which calls itself 'Walking Classes Unite'.

Karen Coelho and her supporters are the prime movers behind this simple campaign. A campaign to get back our sidewalks, our pavements.

Karen who researches and teaches at the MIDS in Adyar has done extensive work on the basic amenities provided to people in north Madras. She has now focused on the walking classes. Karen and Venkat and the rest ran a campaign on the OMR, now Rajiv Gandhi Salai, in the Thiruvanmiyur section, some time ago. They invited some young people who attend rehab and training sessions at 'Vidya Sagar' because they are children with special needs.

The group started at one end of the OMR pavement and made a note of the obstructions, cracks, ups and downs, width and other such features of this pavement. It was in some ways an audit. You can imagine the results - this was certainly not a pavement even normal people can use.

On Sunday, September 21, the Walking Classes group is launching a bigger campaign. They want all of us who care to assemble at the Triumph of Labour statue on the Marina at 4.30 p.m. and walk on the pavement till a point in the sands of Srinivasapuram off Foreshore Estate. Hopefully, this campaign will lead to more sustained efforts to impress on the City Fathers the need to build proper pavements. And the efforts will bear fruit if the campaign is localised and intensified. There are a few core issues though.

One - a blatant plan by the city's civic body to reduce pavements to mere appendages of main roads ( there are places alongside the flyover in Alwarpet where the apology is reduced to about five inches!).

Two - does one tackle encroachment and misuse of sidewalks by converting them into roadside green spaces?

Three - why have councillors in most zones of our city approved proposals to redo sidewalks in inner colonies where people do not need them at all?

Karen and Co. have a long campaign ahead. Give them a hand please instead of cribbing.

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