Chennai’s famous shopping district Pondy Bazaar in T Nagar has had a fresh makeover. The iconic market area is now a pristine urban suburb. Not only does it look great, but utilities, such as power cables and optic fibre cables have all been moved underground. Traffic jams and lack of parking space continue to add to the congestion here though.
Busy streets with vendors every few metres were always a common sight at Pondy Bazaar, but the new Pedestrian Plaza has given the market a makeover. Street vendors have been shifted into a building, called the ‘platform shop owners business complex’, which was commissioned by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC).
Jayasree Ravi, founder of Palam silks, says, “We have been there for 17 years now. Initially there were small shops on the pavements and later they were removed. So, I personally feel when the pavement shops were removed, the footfall for the stores will actually increase and there is more visibility. After the smart city, the place really looks good and clean. They have also made it as a one way. I also feel that there has to be some parkingspace on the roads because without that it becomes difficult. People will definitely like taking a stroll or window shopping. From the retail point of view, I would like to look
at the positive side of it, which is what more youngsters would like to take in as they take a stroll and that’s how I would like to look at it.”
The wide footpaths and parking spaces have replaced the chaos caused by traffic at the shopping hub. Pondy Bazaar was also made a one-way road to facilitate the smooth movement of traffic along the stretch.
“When the size of the pavements were increased, the MTC buses found it difficult to navigate the roads as there were a lot of cars parked literally on the road and that caused a lot of traffic jams for the first few days and then later the cars parked outside the shops were removed but still it did cause traffic jams. But now as the road has been made a one way there is not much of traffic but it is still becoming difficult for us to take an alternate route to reach our destination. Especially during peak hours, the alternate route is worse as all the working people are forced to take the same. As they had increased the size of the pavement, they had to make the road a one way to avoid traffic jams. Even though there are some advantages to these changes, there are more drawbacks and disadvantages to it”, says, Sathya, a daily commuter.
The pavements even have designated seating areas, where shoppers can catch a break from their shopping excursions or wait for their cabs or autos once they are done. Activist ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy, feels, “People are still parking on the pavements and I feel the shops in Pondy Bazaar have to provide
parking space to avoid such situations. If people are parking on the pavements, then it will make it difficult for the commuters to walk. I also feel that one way is unnecessary. The pavements have to be reduced along with the pillars so that the roads will be made broader.”