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Chennai tourist attraction, Elliot’s beach, set to become wheelchair accessible

Elliot's Beach in Chennai is a popular go to for city residents. Its food stalls and the balmy breeze attracts visitors by the thousands everyday. Now, wheelchair users and people with crutches can enjoy the ambience as well.

On 3 December, well known as International Disability Day, the Chennai Municipal Corporation had provided a temporary pathway for disabled people. This will now become a permanent feature. Clearance has been given by the Tamil Nadu Coastal Zone Management Authority (TNCZMA).

Satish Kumar, an alumnus of the Vidya Sagar disability school was co-ordinating the construction of the pathway.

The temporary one was built for two days and was a successful venture. In fact, many wheelchair and crutch users visited it. But they need something like this permanently and not just for a couple of days. It is high time that the government takes initiatives to make all places accessible. - Satish Kumar, Alumnus, Vidya Sagar School

The wooden pathway will be constructed behind the Ashtalakshmi temple and will go up to the beach. It will be 34 metres long and 3 metres wide with strong wooden sleepers in its base. Anti-slip rubber mats will be put so that the pathway will not be slippery.

Some things are yet to be worked out. Like the location of the pathway which at present is far from the actual beach. Considering this is a venture for disabled people, they will be unable to go till the beach. Moreover, this project is going to be only for wheelchair and crutch users. For people with other disabilities, the beach still remains inaccessible.

Disability rights activists have been asking for the beaches to be made accessible for a while now. Even Marina, the world's second largest beach, is inaccessible.

JD Madan, a member of Disability Rights Alliance India (DRAI) says more needs to be done, and fast.

"The initiative is good. But there are many factors that need to be looked into it like how well it is going to be constructed or how well it will be maintained by authorities. There is no point travelling in a bus where seats are uncomfortable! More disabled people can now come out of their homes and witness beaches, says Madan.

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