Like the thousands of shoppers and residents, cycle repair shop owner K. Govindasamy has watched Thyagaraya Nagar change over the years.
“I have been here for 40 years and the crowd is only increasing. Though the flyover [Usman Road] has helped, particularly in the case of buses proceeding to Kodambakkam and Mahalingapuram areas, the traffic snarls are an issue.”
The problems of T.Nagar, one of the oldest areas in the city, only increase by the year. As FSI ratio (Floor Space Index, which is the constructed area in a building, against the size of the building plot) increases in commercial establishments, both human and vehicular traffic goes up. Estimates show that the roads in this very popular commercial hub are taking about three to four times traffic than what they actually can.
Planners concur on two points — that the cure to T.Nagar’s ills lies in giving priority to pedestrians and discouraging entry of vehicles and effective enforcement of rules is a must.
The former Anna University professor, K.P. Subramanian, says that construction of a parking lot is not the answer. “At the rate by which the number of vehicles is increasing, two years from now the facility would be of no use.” A congestion tax by which premium rates would be charged for entry and parking of shoppers cars must be levied, he suggests.
Urban Planner A.N. Sachitanandan says that though constructed with good intention, the flyovers have only added to the congestion. “Once you pedestrianise the area, the hawkers will not be an issue as they will not be occupying space meant for vehicles. Battery-operated vehicles can be operated for the old and physically challenged so that their movement too will not be curtailed.” He also suggests that a town planning tribunal be set up pertaining to development issues.
The former Chief Planner, S. Gurusamy, said that all stakeholders, including hawkers and shoppers, must be consulted before doing anything drastic. An alternative shopping area also needs to be planned, he added.
Managing director of Navin Housing and Properties R.Kumar says that parking lots should be developed by collecting money from the businesses. “It is for the betterment of their businesses that the parking lots are to be constructed. The first thing we need to do is to arrest further illegal development. The government must take stock of the situation and arrest any further growth unless and until infrastructure is improved.”