A little over a month after they were relocated to Link Road, around 160 hawkers are back to their old spots on Anna Salai. Their desperation to earn a living and poor business at the new location, which links Binny Road to Dams Road, are reasons cited by them.
Several hawkers have also temporarily moved to places near the Velankanni Church in Besant Nagar, where the annual festival began recently. This is despite the hawkers' union requesting them to remain on Link Road till the Chennai Corporation issues identity cards.
The month spent on Link Road felt like being in a graveyard due to the lack of public frequenting the stretch, says S. Anserbee, who was allotted shop 104 and deals in handkerchiefs and wallets. Back in his usual spot outside VST Motors on Anna Salai, he says, “Dams Road is where we were initially allotted space to relocate. That is a better place than where we were moved.”
Near the subway outside Raheja Towers, M. Murugan who sells clothes, says: “I had put up a newspaper cutting about our relocation with my cell phone number for the benefit of my customers.”
On Link Road, parking of vehicles such as share autoickshaws and private buses along the pavement shops have added to the list of their grievances. “Vehicles that are not allowed to park outside Gaiety and Chitra theatres are now being parked on this stretch,” says K.Ravichandran, president of the Madras Pavement Traders' Welfare Congress. “The vehicles are parked early in the morning and remain there till late evening,” he adds. With the impending monsoon, hawkers also fear for the safety of their goods. “At least on Anna Salai, we can take shelter inside the buildings around which we have sold our goods for 30 years,” says Mr. Ravichandran. The hawkers are requesting permission from the Chennai Corporation to build their own steel structures on Link Road that can protect them from the elements.
A week ago, the Corporation authorities visited Link Road to conduct an enumeration of hawkers to prepare identity cards. “They told us if we set up shop permanently then they will provide civic amenities and instal ‘No Parking' boards on the stretch,” says Mr. Ravichandran. “The first step is giving us identify cards, otherwise hawkers will continue to divide their time between Anna Salai and Link Road,” he adds.
Keywords: Anna Salai hawkers