Hawker's complex in Ayanavaram, inaugurated over a year ago, is still unavailable to shopkeepers

The status of the hawker's complex on Palavoyal Street in Ayanavaram continues to be unknown, with shopkeepers in the area claiming miscreants have been using the unlocked complex for anti-social activities.

“We have complained to the Mayor and even to the Chief Minister's Cell but nothing has happened. Many people continue to use the place for purposes other than what it was intended for,” said a shopkeeper who did not want to be named.

The complex, with 332 shops, was inaugurated with much fanfare by the Chennai Corporation in September 2010, but has remained unused till now. The building has been waiting for over a year now, for a fresh draw of names of vendors who will be allotted the shops.

B. Karunanidhi, general secretary, Federation of Small Traders Associations, said that there were problems with the issuing of identity cards to hawkers. “If the building is not used, it will lead to fixtures deteriorating. If there is any further delay, the whole exercise would have been a waste of time and public money,” he said.

Another hawkers' complex in Pondy Bazaar in T. Nagar, which was also inaugurated at the same time, however looks as good as new, though here too, the 644 shops in the complex have not been allotted to hawkers and shopkeepers. The doors are sealed, while hawkers dot the perimeter of the structure.

How the complexes will work for the hawkers remains to be seen. Some hawkers in T. Nagar said they would rather sell their wares on the road. Musavu Gani Ambalam, secretary of the Pondy Bazaar Traders' Association said: “I am not sure if we will get the same number of customers once we move inside the complex. But everything depends on the Court verdict. We had not expressed any objection, only some of the bigger shops had done so.”

A few others, however, feel that if the complex is made more conducive for business, it would work for hawkers too. S. Kannan, secretary of the Thyagaraya Salai and Pondy Bazaar Traders' Welfare Association, said: “At present, the Corporation has created stalls with an area of 5 X 5 feet. Even if two customers stand at each shop, it would get crowded. We need an area of at least 8 X 5 feet.”

On the complex at Pondy Bazaar in T.Nagar, Chennai Corporation Commissioner D. Karthikeyan said a case was pending in the Supreme Court. Shopkeepers, who had leased shops from the civic body in the vegetable market that used to be where the hawker's complex has now come up, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. They have demanded that they be allotted space on the first floor instead of the third floor as indicated by the Hawkers Committee.

As regards the complex in Ayanavaram, Mr. Karthikeyan said that the civic body was waiting for the Committee to finalise the list of allottees. “We will expedite the process and get the allocation done within a week,” he said.

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