Gandhi Chhadi set for Rs.300? Is Swachh Bharat Mission kidding?

So I decided to consider getting a “Gandhi Chhadi” [Gandhi stick] which is a long stick with a pointed metal tip that is useful to pick waste objects off the road without bending. It has been highlighted by Swachh Bharat Mission Urban since last year and a couple of addresses of manufacturers have been provided in a YouTube video.

On enquiry with the first supplier listed in the above video, it turns out they want Rs.300 for a set of these litter pickers and the Mission – yes, a whole Central govt Mission – has no distribution mechanism for this. So it can only be couriered.

Clearly, this shows the emptiness of such campaigns. This low tech device should have been outsourced for production, and made available for everyone to make, like a broom. In fact, modern versions of such pickers are today sold on Amazon, and these have a lever that operates as a gripper.

Not surprisingly, the Mission has not made known a plan to distribute even the old-style Chhadis to municipal workers, who have to keep bending everyday to pick up the trash that you and I toss around carelessly.

This is the one on sale on Amazon India for about Rs.500:

Some questions for DMK on eve of polls (Tamil)

இலஞ்சம் கொடுக்காமல் அன்றாட வேலைகள் நடக்குமா ? பிளான் அனுமதி, பட்டா, ஓட்டுனர் உரிமம், தண்ணீர் இணைப்பு, மின்சார இணைப்பு இவை எல்லாம் மாமூல் இல்லாமல் தமிழகத்தில் இன்று பெற முடியாது. DMK ஆட்சியில் இதனை எப்படி மாற்ற போகிறீர்கள் ? AIADMK ஐந்து ஆண்டு ஆட்சியில் சென்னை MTC வளரவே இல்லை. மக்களுக்கு செலவு தான் அதிகம். MTC ஒரு உலக தரம் வாய்ந்த போக்குவரத்து கழகமாக மாற்ற உத்தேசம் உள்ளதா? எத்துனை பேருந்துகள், எவ்வகை பேருந்துகள் வாங்க திட்டம் ? சென்னை மெட்ரோ பணிகள் விரைவில் முடிக்க திட்டம் உள்ளதா ? எல்லோருக்கும், குறிப்பாக முதியோர் மற்றும் குழந்தைகளுக்கு இலவச மருத்துவம் வழங்க முடியுமா ? மக்கள் வரி கட்ட தயார்.

Tiles are smooth, but lot of expenditure has gone into materials for median dividers, beautification and so on

Images of a Coimbatore retirement home

I was recently in a retirement home in Coimbatore, hoping to get a glimpse of this emerging social trend of managed living in India.

Let us call this home located in Thondamuthur, on the textile and foundry city’s outskirts, NN. I have no connections with this establishment and these pictures merely serve as a record of what the physical infrastructure is like in the expensive segment of retirement homes in India.

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Here are some points about this facility, which need not be typical for this segment:

Property is sold outright for between Rs. 700,000 and Rs. 13 million.

It can be occupied only by people who are over 50.

The typical basic living expenditure comes to about Rs. 20,000 including housekeeping, communications and food, but not counting individual preferences on travel, communications, entertaining guests, besides medical needs.

This managed facility has a dispensary with two medical professionals, two beds for patients, access to personal care on need basis (at extra cost), a Bose equipped Blue Ray cinema hall, and a Hindu temple.

Renting out to outsiders is channeled through the facility management.

If you don’t avail of the in-house catering, you pay a Rs.300 per capita maintenance fee per month.

Guests can be entertained for a maximum of two months in a year.

Distance to Coimbatore city is about 15 miles, and it is preferable to have one’s own transport access.


Chennai Metro does a disservice to pedestrians at Alandur

I found it both shocking and amusing that Chennai Metro Rail (CMRL) has done little to make it easy for commuters at the Alandur station. As the following series of photos will show, suppose you arrive by a bus from the South to go to Koyambedu CMBT, it is impossible to cross the GST Road outside Alandur Station without taking a detour to the South for 300 metres, and use the old subway, that was built before the Metro was completed, and have a brief tussle with the traffic.

There is no clear path to the crossing point, and I am sure after dusk, it is poorly lit. The commuter has to struggle to find the way with no pointers to the subway either in the station or outside.

Older adults, children and the disabled are better-off not trying this crossing.

CMRL has no pointing boards at Alandur Station to this subway

The road south from the Alandur Metro Station leading to the subway (in background). Photos: G. Ananthakrishnan

Note that there is no designated path to the subway, just walk through the traffic to the subway in the rear, centre.

At the subway exit, the GST road appears leading North, about 100 metres from the Alandur Metro station.

At the subway entrance, the GST road is seen leading South, about 200 metres from the Alandur Metro station.

The subway plaque at right has the names of DMK leaders inscribed, making it all but certain that it will be ignored when the rival party is in power.

The view to the North: the subway leads to the footpath opposite the CMRL Alandur station. Photo: G. Ananthakrishnan

The view to the North: the subway leads to the footpath opposite the CMRL Alandur station. Photo: G. Ananthakrishnan

All public buildings are supposed to be friendly to the disabled according to a G.O. issued by the present AIADMK government, but this subway is not.

Closer to the rank of bus stops, the Chennai Metro Alandur station appears at right. Things could have been much simpler with a street-level crossing for pedestrians. Photo: G. Ananthakrishnan

Closer to the rank of bus stops, the Chennai Metro Alandur station appears at right. Things could have been much simpler with a street-level crossing for pedestrians. Photo: G. Ananthakrishnan

And, here is a panoramic view of the Alandur Metro station with the bus bays on the opposite side, separated by a granite road divider.

Alandur Station of Chennai Metro Rail LImited

Panoramic view of Alandur Chennai Metro Station on the right, the paver-block footpath outside, the GST Road and bus bays Northbound on the opposite side. No way to cross this point without walking some 300 metres.

While CMRL is trying to fix various things, it could look at these issues: Here is a tweet on how the autorickshaws are in no mood to ply by meter outside the Alandur station. You can see a couple of them waiting in the panorama picture. With some feeder bus competition, this situation could be avoided.

On the same topic, my own tweet shows that there is no easy bus link between Metro at Alandur and the Tambaram-Beach suburban railway at St. Thomas Mount. The tweet makes it clear that you have to depend on a public bus that runs once in 15 minutes, going by Google’s tracking of Chennai MTC operations.

Tamil Nadu’s capital city fares poorly on walking indices. Things may be improving, but too slowly. Read this piece for context.

Glimpses of the Chennai Metro after its opening

Here are some scenes from the Chennai Metro Rail, photographed on July 18. I hope to make this an evolving presentation, adding more suitable images over time. Chennai Metro operates initially between Koyambedu, which is the location of the biggest bus terminus in the State of Tamil Nadu, and Alandur, which is on the arterial GST Road connecting the airport, and the Southern suburbs of Chennai, notably Nanganallur, Pallavaram, Chromepet and Tambaram.

Train pictures will soon follow! Since it is a limited service, I do not have strong reason to use it yet.

Keeping on walking in Chennai, despite everything

As a pedestrian in Chennai, I am grateful for the efforts of all activists to expand walking spaces. But I do think to say this city is some kind of model is a lot of hype.
My picture today from Anna Road, at Teynampet close to where the DMS station of the Metro will be, is one piece of evidence to support my view. There’s an encroaching temple, which even has a barricade to keep people out, and a hapless Peepal caught in the mess. The tree is a mini oxygen tank, but look at the state of the ‘footpath’!

This sort of chronic malady afflicting the walker is rarely featured with powerful commentary in public fora, and our car-borne politicians, IAS, IPS officers, lower administrators of the Highways Department and Corporation of Chennai and other influential classes don’t ever experience it. But everyone talks with such conviction about ‘people-centric’ city development!