Sixty-two-year-old Kasturi Bhai is eagerly awaiting a copy of the latest High Court order extending the stay on the sealing of shops and commercial establishments near the Chennai Central station until July 30.
The reason: she resides just above her shop on EVR Salai, and her entry into her residence is barred because the shop has been sealed. It is one of those shops and establishments sealed because they are to be acquired for Chennai Metro Rail work. She hopes to enter her house after four days on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Madras High Court extended till July 30 the initial stay it had given until Tuesday.
“Last Saturday, the Tahsildar and other officials sealed all shops here. They didn’t listen to my plea that the only way to my house was through my shop. Now, we are residing on the pavement here,” lamented Kasturi. The shop was set up by her father-in-law in 1959.
The senior citizen is one of over 3,000 persons affected by the attempt by Collectorate officials to remove over 60 shops including two super-structures near the Park Railway Station on Saturday morning, in order to acquire the land towards CMRL construction work.
According to some traders, a reply by CMRL to a RTI application on January 21, 2011 stated that the Metro Rail station there would be an underground location on EVR Salai opposite to Park Railway Station. “The area from the banks of the Cooum to the Siddique Sarai Building — nearly 40 grounds —is what the CMRL plans to acquire now. But there is enough government land near TTDC which can be used. We are being victimised and our establishments are being snatched through so-called legal channels,” said a trader who moved the Madras High Court for the interim stay.
Earlier, hotels on the stretch including Buhari, Howrah and Central Tower were spared on Saturday as their owners got the initial stay order.
Many like Basha, an employee of a travel agency which is under lock and key, are in the hope that the shops would reopen and they could resume work. “We don’t have anywhere to go. The State government should look into the matter and rescue us from this uncertainty,” he added.
As the news of the stay extension became known, employees and shop owners have gradually started to come back. Some who did business from outside their sealed shops are slowly moving in with the shutters partly open.