Last Sunday afternoon, when Ashwin Kumar, a charted accountant, was trying find space to park his car on the TTK road, a loud thud on his car window drew his attention.
“A security guy asked my to make a move and not park the vehicle there. When I asked him why, he said the place was reserved for a restaurant near the junction. The place he was pointing to was 50 metres into the road,” recalled Ashwin. And when he brought this to the notice of the police personnel nearby, there was hardly any response.
Ashwin’s case is not a rarity in this city. Across Chennai, a number of restaurants are now being accused of encroaching upon arterial roads and converting them to parking spots for their customers, clogging traffic and putting motorists to great difficulty.
The Anna Salai is a perfect case in hand. While the part of the road leading to the GP Road has now been converted into a one-way traffic, hotels dotting the junction give the motorists a hard time.
A famous restaurant in this junction has in fact converted a huge amount of space on the road outside its gate into parking space for customers. During peak hours, it has become a common sight to see vehicles clogging this important junction, which also has a bus stop.
“If you are not going to the restaurant but want to park your two-wheeler there, the security people stop you and use harsh language. This is a perennial problem given the congestion in this corner,” said Balbir Singh, who runs a shop on GP Road.
What more, on holidays when such restaurants get huge crowd, the security personnel are pressed into the work of regulating traffic at these spots to ensure there is no hindrance for customer in moving their cars. An example would be a popular pub on Radhakrishnan Salai.
“Every Saturday night, cars are parked all through this stretch for hours. No one knows who gave these people permission to use the stretch as parking spaces. And given that some of them return in an inebriated state, it is very hard to quarrel with them,” said a resident of the area, who says complaints to the police fall on deaf ears.
When City Express spoke to some of the police officers at this junction, identical reactions flowed in. According to them, there is a huge issue in terms of issuing licences to such commercial establishments.
An inspector said that based on Section 36 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act, several stipulations are imposed on such establishments while issuing licences. Important among these is the need for enough parking space. The Act also provides for cancellation of licences in case the rules are not followed. But rarely are these powers used. Residents felt that the police should initiate a strong drive against such encroachments. “Traffic flow in many roads will ease out if this is done. This is especially true in congested areas like Mylapore and T Nagar,” said R Shankar, a lawyer.