Corporation remains aloof to demand for creating public parking lots

Every festive season, civic infrastructure in the city’s main commercial areas around the Rockfort comes under severe strain. The heart of the old town limits has seen little improvement in terms of civic infrastructure although commercial establishments have burgeoned attracting an ever increasing number of customers not only from Tiruchi, but also from neighbouring towns.

Characterised by narrow roads and unplanned development, NSB Road, Singarathope, Big Bazaar and Nandhi Kovil Street, the main shopping areas, have faced indiscriminate encroachments by major commercial houses, small businesses and hawkers. Old buildings in several other narrow lanes and by-lanes have been pulled down to make way for multi-storeyed complexes allowing hardly any breathing space.

The Corporation has turned a blind eye to the violations. More worrisome has been the fact that the civic body has failed to wake up to the emerging traffic mess around Mainguard Gate/Singarathope, especially in the wake of the absence of parking space for thousands of vehicles of people visiting the commercial areas everyday. Almost none of the major commercial establishments, which have set shop in multi-storey buildings, have parking space. Even if they had, they could hardly accommodate a handful of cars and two-wheelers.

Consequently, thousands of shoppers are forced to park their vehicles on the roads, wherever a few feet of open space is available. At the heart of the problem lies the Corporation’s inability to find a suitable space for creating a parking lot. Despite the hue and cry raised by consumer organisations and civic activists, the civic body has not addressed the problem, which turns worse every year.

Haphazard parking especially at no parking zones in front of the Holy Cross College on the Madurai Road, West Boulevard Road (where only two-wheeler parking is allowed), the College Road and around the Chathram Bus Stand have all contributed to a major traffic problem.

With four-wheelers barred entry into Singarathope, NSB Road, Big Bazaar Road and Nandhi Kovil Street, as is usual during the Deepavali season every year, people visiting the bazaar say they have no other option. “I will be happy to park my vehicle at a safer location, if there was one. Every time I take my family to the bazaar, I have to go around the West Boulevard Road/Madurai Road scouting for a suitable parking space, of course, on the roadside,” says Ramachandran, a city resident.

Some suggest that the Old Goodshed Road, which attract thin traffic, could be used as a parking area, while others want the Corporation to create a parking lot at the Yanaikulam grounds in Singarathope, where a commercial complex is proposed. A parking lot that was operated by Amaravathi Cooperative Supermarket on the Old Goodshed Road is no more operational. The road also remains a dark alley leaving many vehicle owners apprehensive of parking their vehicles there.

A senior police officer concedes that much of the traffic problems around Mainguard Gate stems from the absence of parking lots.

Apart from taking action against owners of commercial buildings who fail to provide adequate parking space for visitors, steps need to taken to create a public parking lot in the area given the huge increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. These issues, he said, have already been raised at the District Traffic Advisory Council meetings.

On Friday, harried city police authorities toyed with a circular traffic system on the West Boulevard Road-Salai Road-Karur By-pass Road route in an attempt to bring about some improvement in the crowd and traffic management.

But the “experimental traffic diversion” was hurriedly withdrawn within hours as the diversion threw traffic into chaos at Thillai Nagar/Salai Road and Karur By-pass Road.

A former councillor points out that the Corporation some years back had announced a plan to create a multi-level parking system near Teppakulam, but failed to follow up on it.

Perhaps, it is time for the civic body to revive the plan. But the challenge would be to find the space for the facility.