Such shops near colleges can easily tempt youngsters to purchase and smoke cigarettes.
“Ethiraj Salai is really narrow and we’ve always had to deal with slow-moving traffic. Over the past few years, two-wheeler, car and auto drivers, who line up outside the fifteen-odd tea stalls along the stretch have added to our woes,” said Pratap Goel, a tenant of Shivalaya Apartments.
J Dinesh, a flat owner in the same building, said, “There are four such stalls just between the post office and DLF Commander’s Court — that’s where the road is narrowest and vehicles don’t have space to move because of the parked vehicles. Everyone stars honking and it drives us up the wall.”
Questioning why so many stalls were given permission to occupy the road, he asked, “I understand if there are three-four shops but why was permission given for one stall to be set up every few metres? Just outside the Jaguar showroom, there are three tea shops sticking to each other.”
This causes an even bigger nuisance, said Ramakrishna R, a member of Commander’s Court Resident Association. “I am appalled by how the police allow people to stand outside the tea stalls and smoke. At any given time during the day, there are at least five people with lit cigarettes. Why should we become passive smokers because of them?”
Further, he said that shops on Ethiraj Salai shouldn’t be given permission to sell cigarettes because there is a college in the vicinity. “You don’t see so many tea stalls outside MOP Vaishnav or Women’s Christian College — then why give more than fifteen stalls permission to set up in and around Ethiraj College? This can easily tempt youngsters to purchase and smoke cigarettes,” he said.
When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner (Health) said, “First, we will make an estimate of how many shops are within 100 metres of the college and are selling cigarettes, then we will carry out clean-ups. We will further determine what action can be taken.”
As for the traffic jams, the only solution is to remove the roadside stalls, said Jayakumar, Egmore Traffic Enforcement Inspector. “The Corporation has granted permission for all these shops to be set up so there’s nothing we can do to prevent customers from parking outside them. Our vehicles patrol the stretch often to prevent people from parking and blocking the road, but it is impossible to be on surveillance 24x7. The only solution is if the tea stalls are denied permission and evacuated from there,” he said.