The existing pavements are all encroached by a variety of things. There is a prominent flex board for Ganesh Chathurthi directly blocking the pavement and forcing pedestrians to step on to the road.
Shops have set up seating for customers on the footpath. A few others use the footpath as a parking space for two-wheelers of customers and employees. Displays of the shops and name boards also take up real estate that should rightfully belong to the pedestrians.
“This road was always encroached up on like this. As far as I know, no one has complained or opposed this. People just treat it as a reality of life in the city. Moreover, we do not want to cause some vendors to lose livelihood. Wish there was a way the authorities could find a solution that will benefit both the vendors and the pedestrians. As for the flex boards, there are no two ways about how they must be removed immediately,” said Balu, a resident.
The other aspects that make traversing Ethiraj Salai difficult are small shrines by the side of the road. The shrines sit on the footpath and make movement tough for pedestrians as prayers are offered by devotees during the day.
“We do not want to hurt any religious sentiments by asking the shrine to be removed or moved. It is a difficult topic and I am sure no one wants any tension as a result of broaching it,” said Karishma, a student of Ethiraj College.
Small vendors and tea stalls also abound the road, catering to many students who attend the college. The tea shops are situated on the footpath causing huge inconvenience. Litter from the shops, too, gets dumped on the footpath causing more obstruction.
“I set up a stall here as my customers are here. I try to keep my things out of the way, I do not put out chairs and maintain a can for the waste. I have to make a living,” said Karupaiah, a stall owner.
The road also loses its footpath to mounds of wires from private internet service providers heaped on the footpath or hanging precariously off the poles.
Despite being a road traversed by many, Ethiraj Salai’s footpath woes look unlikely to be addressed comprehensively in the near future.
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