Accessibility February 21, 2020
Chennai’s Marina Beach all set to become accessible for wheelchair users
The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) received the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance to build walkways at Marina beach. That means, wheelchair users can easily access Marina Beach now. Disabled people in the city are hoping that the project will be implemented without further delay.
Five years ago 28-year-old Shiv* (name changed) met with an accident and became a wheelchair user. That put an end to his regular visits to Chennai’s iconic Marina Beach with friends. Shiv could never meet up with his friends there as the beach is inaccessible to wheelchair users.
Walkways at Marina Beach planned.
Shiv is hoping that will soo change. With the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) getting the clearance from the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) to build walkways at Marina Beach, ramps can now be built for wheelchair users. The Union Environment Ministry approved the walkways on 27 January.
The announcement has been welcomed by disability rights groups who have been fighting for this for a long time. Marina Beach is one of the world’s longest beaches and thousands of tourists visit it every day
“Anyone in coastal India should expedite this in their areas. Where there is a beach, there should be a path”, says Vaishnavi Jayakumar, the well-known disability rights activist from Chennai. Vaishnavi, who has been working closely with concerned officials to make Marina Beach accessible, hopes there will be no further delay.
What an accessible Marina Beach will look like
According to reports, two walkways will be built, one near the Labor Statue and the other behind the Gandhi Statue. These will be 380 meters and 125 meters long respectively. A senior corporation official told the The New Indian Express, “No concrete structures will be built. Only slip resistance and waterproof marine plywood will be used. Wooden hand rails will be provided on the sides for safety and support. Recycled wood will be used for the walkway platform. The existing natural slope of the beach will be used for easy mobility”.
Officials will also ensure that the pathway will not be used by cyclists and bike riders. Clear sign boards will be placed so that people with disabilities can easily access the walkways without any hassles.
On International Disabilities Day which is celebrated on 3 December, the GCC introduced the project Marina for All where the beach was made accessible for two days for wheelchair users. The initiative was much appreciated by wheelchair users in the city. With this clearance, this will become a reality 365 days a year.
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