By mid next year, the groundwork will begin for Chennai Metro's the mammoth phase II project, which will cover 118.9 km of the city, changing the way it looks — from traffic diversions to restricted road width.
But there are some who will be hit harder by the resultant disruption. For shopkeepers and traders whose businesses lie along the proposed alignments, their lands, shops and establishments may soon cease to exist. Many shopkeepers and traders, especially in Purasawalkam — through which the Madhavaram-Siruseri corridor will pass — think their lives may be in disarray if they have to vacate the area to give way for construction.
Some will have to give up their land and many will have access to their shops curtailed or even cut off, due to construction activity.
S. Hyder Ali, who has run a garment store on Purasawalkam High Road for three decades now, says he will have to shut down his shop as he has received notice from Chennai Metro. “I have set up this shop in a rented place; so, the compensation money they give will go to my owner and I won’t get a penny. Where will I go and establish another shop? How will I mobilise funds? Even those who get compensation will need about two years to establish a store elsewhere, find customers and make some profit,” he adds.
Many shopkeepers say this area isn’t an upscale market where most can afford a system like Chennai Metro and hence it doesn’t really require a station. Another garment owner, who didn’t wish to be named, and who will also have to part with his store, says, “After shopping, with all the baggage customers have, do you think they will take an auto or the Metro? Even if there is a section that wants to use the Metro, they can always walk up to the Perambur Barracks Road station which will come up less than a kilometre away,” he adds.
G. Nandakumar, who has run Sree Ananda Traders in Purasawalkam for 35 years now, says they have good bus connectivity and share auto services as well. “For thousands of shopkeepers here, the access to their shops will be affected; that means, many customers wouldn’t want to take the pain and walk in here. We have decent profits with business running throughout the year; now, we are scared that we have to bid goodbye to all that. Not just that, since it will be built as an underground network, we are worried whether there will be an impact on the water table and the structures of buildings,” he adds.
A section of businessmen says they need more clarity on compensation and an exact timeline from Chennai Metro on how long the construction will continue.
According to Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) officials, they have been trying to reduce the number of shops to be acquired and the total amount of land that will be taken over for construction. “The station size has been reduced too. We understand the problem and are in the process of keeping the land acquisition to the minimum extent possible.”