The area will finally get some breathing space with the hawkers’ shopping complex nearing completion, saysT.S. ATUL SWAMINATHAN
The clumsy, congested Pondy Bazaar is on the verge of a makeover, with the construction of Hawkers’ Shopping Complex by the Chennai Corporation reaching the finishing stages. At present, partition work is on in full swing at the three-storey complex. The shops, which are being made out of wood, have a storage space of 5 x 5 square feet and a common walking space of four-and-a-half square feet. Once the partition work is completed, the complex would be cleaned and white-washed.
Over 600 traders and hawkers from the area and nearby Usman Road will be accommodated here. The complex, which was to be inaugurated on August 15, failed to meet the deadline as hawkers and traders requested more time to move in. The revised deadline of September 15 was also missed with Madras High Court order granting more time to vendors to set up shops inside. Now, the traders want to function from the complex before the festive season kicks off. “We are planning to move 20 days before Deepavali. Each floor can accommodate over 150 hawkers. It won’t be difficult for us to sell our wares at the complex. Our business won’t get affected,” traders said. On Wednesday, Chennai Corporation Commissioner Vikram Kapur inspected the complex. The traders put forth a charter of demands including a first-aid medical emergency room, fire extinguishers, fire exit passageway, washrooms, and EB meters for each shop within the complex. The Commissioner directed the traders to submit a petition in this regard, and said he would consider their demands.
The hawkers’ complex at Pondy Bazaar came up after recommendations from J. Kanakaraj (retired Madras High Court judge) committee in 2003 to regulate hawking. The committee directed the Chennai Corporation to build shopping complexes for hawkers on alternative sites and issue identity cards to them.