CHENNAI: IT is a municipality that is over 50 years old and boasts of a market that is more than a century old. Yet, Tambaram, often referred to as the southern gateway to Chennai, has witnessed very little improvement in the commercial and shopping hub.
Congested and encroached public spaces, lack of designated spots for pavement vendors and little control by government agencies have all made West Tambaram market a free-for-all. Grand schemes to create multi-level complexes exist only on paper for over a decade.
Residents and activists of Tambaram have lost all hopes and regret that despite the growth over the years and also the increase in static as well as floating population, the State government has paid little attention towards careful holistic development this town needs.
Shanmugham Road, which traders consider as the ‘Ranganathan Street of Tambaram’ is overflowing with merchants and hawkers elbowing for space. In addition to wholesale cereal and pulses markets, there is a scamper for space among visitors to offices and banks here. In the absence of a regulation over the movement of heavy vehicles and light commercial vehicles, not a day passes without quarrels between traders and residents.
The space below the road overbridge all along its entire stretch – on Grand Southern Trunk Road and Mudichur Road is pathetic to say the least and it is a public health hazard with open drains and accumulation of filth. With great difficulty, temporary shops which had occupied public space around Tambaram Head Post Office were removed, much to the benefit of pedestrians.
In the absence of even a semblance of control, mysterious operators make money, collecting daily rental charges from traders occupying public spaces. Attempts were made to launch efforts to create complexes, but none of them have taken off. For instance, the Tambaram Municipality once contemplated bringing down the Ambedkar Marriage hall and building a new one in its place along with a multi-storeyed market complex, but it was dropped.
In 2014, there was a plan to create a multi-level complex at a cost of `6.5 crore near the existing bus terminus, but that too has been shelved.
“Even in T Nagar and Pondy Bazaar, the government has created shopping complexes and improved the pavements. Why cannot it be replicated in Tambaram,” asked P.Sriram, a West Tambaram resident.
Sources in the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply said they had created much needed facilities in Tambaram – improving availability of public toilets being one. They had launched frequent drives to ensure that public space was not being completely taken over by traders, they added.