CHENNAI : Beach vendors alleged that Chennai Corporation’s latest attempt to declutter the Marina by limiting vendors to 50 feet from service lane will do more harm than good. While it will reduce litter on the beach front, vendors claimed their businesses will take a catastrophic hit and give rise to internal conflicts. The new vending zone outlined proposes two horizontal rows of shops from the lighthouse to Kannagi Silai. The first row will begin 25 feet from the service lane and will be separated from the second by a mere eight feet.
“This arrangement where there will be no shops after the first 50 feet will hamper impulse buys from crowds who are tired after playing in the waves,” said B Maran, who runs a bhajji shop on the beach.
“Spreading out helps all vendors to make profits,” he said, explaining that people usually don’t walk more than 100 metres to buy any food item on the beach. “That’s why there are corn vendors, bhajji sellers and fast food joints.”
However, with the new shop arrangement changing business dynamics, local leaders feel the influence of a few individuals, who have been dictating shop arrangements using their political backing, will increase. “The concept of high-sale prime locations will come into play and these individuals will make a killing,” said K Bharathi, a local leader from Nochikuppam fishing hamlet, where most of the vendors live.
Less than ten individuals control/ have controlled over 500 shops by subletting or selling them to other vendors. “If the Corporation wants to control blooming of shops and reduce pollution of the beach, it must prevent these individuals from owning multiple shops,” said Bharathi.
Corporation officials said that shop owner details will be collected only after the arrangement is implemented. “Currently around 200 shops have moved into the vending zone and steps to regularise the shops and will be taken only after the arrangement is implemented,” said a senior Corporation official, adding there are plans to seek funds for semi-permanent structures for vendors once the new vending zone is implemented.