The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) on Thursday commenced construction work for a permanent pathway for people with disabilities at Marina beach. The 235-metre pathway, which is 3.4 metres wide, will be built at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore in front of Vivekananda House.
It was initially proposed to be built near the Gandhi statue, but the authorities moved the facility since a Metro station is coming up near that area. An official with the civic body noted that the construction of the ramp would be completed in two months.
Since 2016, the civic body, in association with the Disability Rights Alliance (DRA), has made a part of the beach accessible to people with disabilities by setting up a temporary wooden pathway on World Disability Day. Activists and DRA members have long demanded that a permanent pathway be constructed here for disabled persons.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Accessible Beaches, an initiative by those part of DRA, wrote that they have moved to the next big step. “Finally we had the Puja for starting the construction of accessible beach permanent pathways at Marina beach. Soon the construction will be starting in the coming days. Thanks to the government officials,” the post read.
Speaking to indianexpress.comDRA member R Sathish Kumar said they have also requested the civic body officials to set up other basic amenities, including a restroom, near the ramp for the convenience of the public.
“There will be handrails on both sides of the ramp. Every 10 metres, there will be an opening that will allow people to enter the ramp. Apart from the ramp, we have also requested the GCC for other amenities including accessible toilets, a small help desk so that people who wish to use the beach wheelchair can pick it up from that place and return it later. The officials have been favourable to our requests, we hope it will materialise soon,” he said.
He added that they had been requesting a permanent pathway since 2016. “For the first two years, the pathway was done using a temporary carpet in which the wheels got stuck and then we moved to a temporary wooden ramp in the following years. We had been organising this ‘Wheelchair accessible Marina beach’ since 2016 alongside World Disability Day, but we believed that accessibility should be there for all days and not for just one particular day. Measures have been taken to bring such facilities to Elliot’s beach as well. We have finalised the location. The other procedures are being carried out,” he noted.