In pictures: What the Chennai ‘walker’ has to navigate everyday


Uneven footpath and a transformer obstructing the pedestrian path on Gandhi Mandapam Road.

Chennai’s woes with footpaths have been a recurring irritant in recent months. From protests against political parties that claim footpaths to erect their banners, to citizen complaints of newly laid footpaths being unserviceable due to design flaws and encroachments — there is a chorus of voices sounding a clear demand for better facilities for pedestrians.

Pavements across the city suffer from poor design, inconvenient placement of street furniture, street vendor stalls that block access, broken tiles, dumping of debris and overflowing garbage. This leaves little room for those who commute on foot to navigate the city’s streets safely.

Take a look at these three arterial roads to highlight what ails pedestrian infrastructure in the city.

No room for pedestrians on Greams Road 

Greams Road links Mount Road, College Road and Pantheon Road. The road is home to many shops and eateries and a bylane, the Greams Lane, has the famous Apollo hospitals. The road sees heavy footfall at all times of the day and has two-way traffic. Below are some pictures of the various obstructions in the form of encroachments, illegal parking, improper dumping of garbage and street furniture placed in an inconvenient manner along the road.

A vehicle belonging to Apollo hospitals parked on the footpath.
Political banners strewn on the path used by pedestrians.
Vehicles parked on the footpath where Greams Road meets Mount Road.
Pushcarts block the side of the road.
Concrete slabs lying on the footpath.
Cars from the mechanic shop parked on the footpath.
Fibre optic cable roll left on the footpath.
Construction debris dumped on the footpath.

Gandhi Mandapam Road: Poor design and broken pavements

Gandhi Mandapam Road sees heavy traffic at all times of the day. The road houses several educational institutions such as Anna University and AMM School. The Anna Centenary Library, which has many patrons, is also located on this road. There is inadequate pedestrian infrastructure on this road. Uneven and broken footpaths, vendors who block the access to footpaths and illegal parking is rife on Gandhi Mandapam Road.

Placement of junction box obstructing the footpath.
Broken tiles make the footpath uneven and unsafe.
Cars parked on the footpath.
A shoe repair stall occupies the entire footpath.
Two-wheelers parked on the footpath.
A tender-coconut seller’s stall on the footpath.
Temporary erections for construction at Anna University blocking the footpath.
Blocks of concrete dumped outside Anna Centenary Library.

Jawaharlal Nehru Road: More woes for pedestrians

Jawaharlal Nehru Road near Ashok Pillar is an arterial road with a post office and primary school in the vicinity. There is also a busy bus stop that serves many people. The footpaths are an eyesore as they are encroached and blocked in many ways.

Broken tiles, protruding manholes and a kiosk encroaches the footpath at Ashok Pillar.
Cycles parked on the footpath outside the housing board tenements.
A pile of mud dumped on the footpath.
Heaps of plastic covers remain on the footpath.
A badly finished manhole indicates that milling was not done before laying the pedestrian path.
A dangling EB wire and an abandoned auto block the way.
A tea bunk that occupies major chunk of the footpath.

(Pictures by Aruna Natarajan and Laasya Shekhar)

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About Aruna Natarajan 183 Articles
Aruna is an Associate Editor at Citizen Matters. She has a BA in Economics and a PG Diploma in Journalism. She has also worked in a think-tank on waste management policy and with a non-profit in sport for development. She writes on civic issues, governance, waste, commute and urban policy. She tweets at @aruna_n29.


  1. We Indians are using the platforms for Urinating, parking, putting platform shops,and lying.
    We never use it for walking purpose.
    We deserve diz.

  2. These and blatant use of footpath and streets to store construction material by shop renovatirs is a big problem in Anna Nagar. Even right in front of the main Roundtana.

    These are at least static impediments. Bike riders use the footpath to short circuit traffic in many places in Chennai as if it is their right almost running over pedestrians.

  3. Excellent collection of photos.. However they are easy to find in Chennai..
    Wake up Chennai…

  4. Oh, man, you’ve brought to attention what I’ve been pondering for a few months now. The pedestrian walks in Munusamy Salai, KK Nagar have conveniently become an extra space for the dozens of shops and offices.

    With share autos (Tata Magic) plying at high-speeds throughout the day, it’s such a nightmare for old people in this area.

    What’s the procedure to get the attention of the govt. officials who are responsible for the safety of its citizens?

  5. No rule of law in Chennai and that is the law here.Your pictures poove that is the reality

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