Tangled and dangerous: Cable wires ruining the Chennai cityscape

On a walk in a busy street in Chennai, a citizen journalist documents the threat to pedestrians posed by overhanging and ground level cable wires

On a sunny evening, I walked from Ambika Appalam signal at Kasturbai Nagar in Adyar up to Indira Nagar in Chennai. Along the pavement, I repeatedly stumbled over dangerously lying cable wires.

After almost getting my neck caught in one such cable, I started taking photographs of the cityscape. It was cluttered with multiple fibre optic cables belonging to competing cable companies, all ruining the city’s aesthetic appeal.

Exposed fibre optic cables, both overhead and on the ground are potential safety hazards for residents and a reflection of poor execution of work by cable companies. These are especially dangerous during monsoons as cables can cause serious accidents like choking and falls.

Here are some photos from Kasturbai Nagar 3rd Cross, a long road connecting Kasturbai Nagar to Indira Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur. It is a busy road, with many pedestrians and vehicular traffic; and residential buildings nestled together with commercial establishments.  

Read more: Perambur SWD construction: Sewage, exposed cables and other horrors

cable wire
A fibre optic cable lies in the middle of the pavement obstructing walkers. Pic: Ramiah Ariya

The cable wires can be seen snaking along the pavement towards the road; an accident waiting to happen. This particular road has a continuous pavement that runs along it for some distance and the road is usually quite busy. The pavement serves as a meeting point for many people, with eateries and shops on the way.

Greenery ruined by cable wires

cables and routers
An avenue tree choked by cables and routers. Pic: Ramiah Ariya
cable wires
A complete mess of wires blocking storefronts of commercial outlets, obscuring their nameboards. Pic: Ramiah Ariya
overhead cables
The view of the sky is marred for everyone in the neighbourhood. Pic: Ramiah Ariya.
lamp post cables
A lamp post choked by cables near Nalli Silks in Kasturbai Nagar. Pic: Ramiah Ariya

An unsightly tangle of wires

lamp post wires
Another lamp post in a busy part of Adyar, where there are many shops. Pic: Ramiah Ariya

Read more: Photo essay: A look at urban settlements along the Mithi river

Finally, the big surprise — it is not just private enterprises creating this problem. Cameras put up on the streets by Chennai City Police, under the ‘Mega City Plan’ also have their cables adding to the mess. Below, you can see a set of cables emerging from the camera unit, which is at the Three Point Cross Road between Indira Nagar and Kasturba Nagar.

cable wires camera
Even wires attached to police cameras stick out of their units near pavements. Pic: Ramiah Ariya.

This tangle has existed for the past several years due to the mushrooming of fibre and other telecom infrastructure providers — the mess causes problems for the cable line owners themselves, such as fibre optic operators, because they cannot fathom where their cable wires branch off amidst the mix-up. Frequently, fixing the cables in one place causes problems somewhere else.

In places, the cables are either an obstruction, a stumbling threat on the ground, or at such a low level that a person’s neck can get entangled, especially at night.

While these cables are quite dangerous, they blend into the surroundings, acting as an unseen danger that crowds the city. The wires not just indicate mere carelessness in handling wires, but also a trend of unchecked cable companies competing against each other, at the cost of people’s safety outdoors.

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