The increasing number of vehicles, shrinking road/parking space and encroachment of pedestrian platforms/roads by the business class are not all that contribute to the slowdown of vehicular traffic in many parts of Chennai.
The proliferation of restaurants and eateries across the city in recent years that are functioning even after the Greater Chennai Traffic Police refused to issue “No Objection Certificate” (NoC) for want of dedicated parking space is having a telling effect on the traffic congestion, more so, during rush hours making it a harrowing experience for office-goers, students and so on.
The issue of restaurants functioning despite denial of NOC by the traffic police was flagged at the highest level recently. At a review meeting on traffic management convened by the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, the violation was discussed in detail and the police wanted the Greater Chennai Corporation, the licencing authority, to explain the methodology adopted, the police sources said on Monday.
Encroaching public space
According to a senior police officer, many restaurants, eateries and supermarkets deploying private security guards to block pedestrian platforms and road space for parking their customer vehicles has become common. Some even used metal barricades or ropes to block pedestrian platforms/road meant for the public and use the space for valet parking service.
“Such violations are adding up to the major bottlenecks in the city now. We are seeing supermarkets, textile showrooms, restaurants, home appliances stores, private hospitals and so on engaging private security guards to block road space for their customers. This is a common sight in areas like Anna Nagar, T. Nagar, Anna Salai, Ashok Nagar, Adyar and Koyambedu. The unauthorised parking of vehicles affects normal traffic flow and forces pedestrians to walk on the road making them vulnerable to accidents,” the police officer said.
Considering the serious nature of these violations, the Greater Chennai Police had flagged the issue at the appropriate level seeking urgent intervention of the authorities concerned. The officer, who preferred not to be quoted, said the most important factor causing traffic jams in the city such as restaurants/eateries functioning without NOC, livelihood issues involving street vendors in areas like NSC Bose Road, T. Nagar, Mint and Pulla Avenue were discussed at the review meeting.
The ongoing Chennai Metro Rail Ltd., storm-water drain construction, underground electricity cables or other pipe laying works and poor restoration of road surface after trenches are dug for repair/development works were the other reasons why traffic hold-up had become a common problem in the city, especially along the East Coast Road, Rajiv Gandhi Salai, Ashok Nagar, Arcot Road and their adjoining areas.
“Since there is no clear demarcation of ‘no parking zones’, road users park their vehicles haphazardly along the road. Adding to this is the encroachment of pedestrian platforms and/or road space by traders. The police have the power to book a case and impose fine but not to remove the encroachments which the civic authorities have to do…,” the officer said.
Police sources said that restaurants which were functioning for a long time are usually exempt from NOC norms since traffic was not a problem when they initially entered the industry. The issue was with the restaurants which came up in recent years with no dedicated parking space and continued to operate even after the police refused NOC.