The big, empty spaces at the city’s MRTS stations may soon be filled up – with Amma canteens.
The Chennai Corporation is planning to ask Southern Railway for space at the MRTS stations, as it is finding it difficult to get large plots of land to set up these budget eateries in various parts of the city.
If the proposal goes through, Amma canteens are likely to be set up on the mezzanine floors of the Mandaveli, Greenways Road, Kotturpuram, Kasturba Nagar, Indira Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur stations. Even though CRZ regulations ban the commercial exploitation of these stations, the mezzanine floors alone can be used, officials said.
The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and Southern Railway officials are due to meet shortly to work out the details.
However, the rent may be a problem, as the civic body is asking for reasonable amounts to be fixed while the Railways is likely to demand a huge amount depending on the commercial value of the space, a Corporation official said.
M. Pandian, Corporation councillor of Chintadripet, is hoping the proposal goes through.
“We want to have five eateries in our ward. One has already been commissioned, but it will be practically impossible to find four more locations. Space at the MRTS station will be useful if the rent is affordable,” he said.
The Corporation is also mulling over the idea of using space at the MRTS stations for night shelters. A large number of homeless people can use the train services to get to the night shelters, and will benefit from the Amma canteens too.
For instance, the Velachery station has over 2.58 lakh sq. ft. of space for commercial exploitation and would be ideal for a night shelter, officials said. Taramani and Perungudi stations each have nearly 1.94 lakh sq. ft. available.
Commercial exploitation of the space in MRTS stations is not a new idea. However, over the years, many projects have failed to take off.
According to a report submitted by a consultancy firm to the CMDA a few years ago, the rental values in areas near the stations were low, affecting the viability of projects.
Some years ago, CMDA had proposed the exploitation of space in nine stations across 11.16 km of the second phase of MRTS.
However, permission was only given to develop Taramani, Perungudi and Velachery, but even this was later deferred as there was surplus commercial space already available in these areas.