Aloysius Xavier Lopez
Problems facing residents near Usman Road flyover a wake-up call to all concerned
CHENNAI: The unplanned and unregulated proliferation of commercial establishments in close proximity to primary residential zones in the city has been on for years. This has the potential to cause serious long-term problems for residents with skewed rental and property values. The problems faced by residents near Usman Road flyover have been an indicator and a wake-up call to all concerned.
Lack of infrastructure in the city many decades ago had been a constraint for residents of T.Nagar to take a patient during a critical emergency to a doctor.
After the construction of the flyover, some residents near the flyover have similar experience as they are unable to take their vehicle out for an emergency.
“The residents of T.Nagar were considered blessed. Now they are slowly realising the problems associated with unplanned commercial reclassification. This may lead to residents moving to other locations in future if no proper action is taken by authorities,” says G.Kailasam, a resident.
“The new construction of residential buildings along main roads has come down in T.Nagar as it is impossible for the builder to provide a flat at a reasonable cost to the customer as the land prices are very high. The CMDA rules also have a deterrent effect on new residential construction in these areas. Only commercial establishments can afford the high cost of land,” says G.Rajan, a property consultant.
Apart from the main roads in T. Nagar the streets near those roads also have become unsuitable for residential purposes. This has increasingly been observed in areas such as Nungambakkam, Kodambakkam, Purasawalkam and Anna Nagar.
“The residents near the commercial areas lose their privacy, freedom of movement and an immediate environment with good sanitation,” says K. Swaminathan, a resident of T.Nagar.
“In the past, the CMDA had been giving approval for construction of buildings for commercial purposes without enough parking spaces in many areas in the city if a certain amount was remitted as penalty. The amount collected as penalty was proportional to the deficit in the mandatory parking space. This had, in the past, generated revenue for the government. But this has been one of the contributors to the problems faced by residents in areas with high density of commercial establishments such as T.Nagar,” says M.K. Sundaram, Chairman of the Builders Association of India, South Centre.
“The more width provided for platform helps only encroachers and hawkers. This further makes the problem of residents in those areas worse. Instead of exceptionally wide path for pedestrians, the roads can be widened for free flow of traffic. In commercial areas it is enough for the platform to be 1.5 m wide,” he said.
“No commercial activity should be permitted in primary residential areas of the city,” he added.
Some residents feel that women and children residing in localities near shopping areas are having a relatively insecure environment.
“The high rentals, traffic congestion and many commercial establishments nearby have made some areas in the city unfit for residential purpose. The rent is Rs.4,000 for my two-bedroom house as against Rs.8,000 for a smaller space in Anna Nagar,” says D.Karthikeyan who recently moved to Iyyapanthangal from Anna Nagar.
Some residents feel Development Control Rules should be framed in such a way that the residential neighbourhood is not disturbed by uncontrolled commercial activity. “Ranganathan Street, once a residential area, has been converted into a commercial area. Many problems in the city arise due to unauthorised construction,” said Mr.Sundaram.
Some residents of T.Nagar feel that if the authorities are unable to take proper action to solve the problems that have sprung up after the Usman Road Flyover before the festival season, many will be forced to move out of T.Nagar.