“T. Nagar's problem is not just lack of parking space”
Over the years, several plans to construct multi-level parking lots in T.Nagar have not taken off due to objections from residents and a definite ‘no' from the Supreme Court in one case.
A recent proposal from the Chennai Corporation to construct such a facility on Bashyam Street is still in the nascent stage and the area, which has a mix of residential and commercial usage, continues to suffer.
Residents of streets such as Ramanathan Street, Rangan Street, Rameshwaram Road, Mangesh Street and Pinjala Subramaniam Street have to grit their teeth in frustration as vehicles are parked there at all times.
A. Balaji, a resident of T.Nagar, says: “Vehicles bringing goods to the shops block traffic on the narrow thoroughfares that form the backbone of our area. The police introduced a rule that heavy vehicles can enter the locality only after 10 p.m. but nobody enforces it now. During the weekend, two-wheelers and cars are parked haphazardly, causing much inconvenience to residents.”
Passing through T.Nagar too is an issue. “The flyovers have not served their purpose. There is not much traffic on them. For some time small traders and passers-by used the space beneath the South Usman Road flyover,” says a retailer.
For shoppers like Sridharan, a resident of Rangarajapuram, parking in T.Nagar is a headache. “There have been instances of car tyres being deflated if parked on small streets. If I go by myself I prefer to shop after 8 p.m. so that I can park my car near the shops. But when the entire family comes along, I have to trouble my friend on Venkatesan Street for parking space. Though the area has grown enormously, the shops have not bothered to provide adequate parking space for vehicles,” he says.
Nalli Kuppuswamy Chetti, honorary president of Usman Road Traders' Association, says that the multi-level parking lot would no doubt help cars. “Shopkeepers must provide parking space in proportion to the built-up area. They must think ahead. Our shop has space for parking 200 cars at a time. May be in five years, we will construct a multi-level parking lot for our customers,” he says.
Mayor Saidai S. Duraisamy says the Chennai Corporation says any initiative from the traders to provide parking space will be welcome. “Ever since the issue of sealing shops on Ranganathan Street arose, many people have been suggesting that traders convert space in their buildings for use as car parks or purchase land and develop multi-level car parking lots.”
Transportation engineers, however, say that T.Nagar has nearly 20 times the parking requirement of a popular mall on Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai. “Two thousand parking slots is what T.Nagar requires … creating space for 200 is hardly enough. You need space for at least 600 cars; otherwise, too many people may try to use it and it will create a jam,” says an expert.
However, T.Nagar's problem is not just lack of parking space, says A.N. Sachithanandan, immediate past president, Institute of Town Planners. “It is much larger and requires a courageous solution. There has to be a freeze on change of land use. Pedestrianisation is the simplest solution. The roads between the Mambalam railway station and Venkatnarayana Road have to be pedestrianised. During Deepavali people accept vehicular regulations for 15 days. That should be extended.”