Fed up with illegal parking and hawker encroachment, a group of T. Nagar residents took ‘protective shelter’ at R1 Mambalam police station on Sunday.
The residents left the station premises after police officers assured them of suitable changes to traffic regulations after a study on the existing conditions in the neighbourhood. However, the Chennai Corporation has to play a role in regulating hawkers, the police said.
Residents alleged the number of hawkers in T. Nagar had increased considerably over the past few months, choking the entire neighbourhood. “Congestion has increased and moving about has become a challenge,” said C. Amudhan, a resident of Raja Street.
Residents alleged the number of shops had crossed 700 on Railway Border Road, even though the High Court had permitted only 131 shops. The number of hawkers on Usman Road was more than 500, a resident said. Many such hawkers on Usman Road had started business only in the past seven years, he said.
In a petition, the residents said, every inch of the commercially significant area was occupied by hawkers and traders with the support of officials. “There is an unexplained nexus between traders, commercial enterprises and officials. T. Nagar used to be a peaceful residential neighbourhood,” another resident said.
R. Parthasarathy, a 75-year-old resident, stressed the need for restoring the residential nature of T. Nagar. The police said they would hold a meeting with residents every 15 days to solve emerging civic issues because of traffic congestion. A study on parking facilities and new traffic regulations would be carried out shortly, a police officer said.
In 2009, the Chennai Corporation had requested Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited to comprehensively redevelop T. Nagar to ensure smooth traffic flow, integrate commercial activities and improve environmental quality.
The Chennai Corporation has firmed up plans and proposed some key projects such as pedestrianisation of Thyagaraya Road, South Usman Road and areas around Panagal Park; dedicated hawker zones in the pedestrian areas; an elevated skywalk connecting Mambalam railway station and T. Nagar bus terminus; redesigning of Panagal Park; integrated traffic signals and multi-level car parking.