It was only recently that the Greater Chennai Corporation completed the work on renovating and widening the pavement on both sides of Spur Tank Road in Chetpet.
Several shops, especially small eateries, have encroached the pavement, impeding pedestrians’ movement. “Near the Chetpet signal where Spur Tank Road meets Harrington Road, the pavement is fully occupied by vehicles of shop owners and customers. It thus becomes a blind spot for vehicles taking a turn to enter Spur Tank Road from Gurusamy Bridge,” said M Sathish who passes by this road regularly. “Due to the vehicles parked on pavements, pedestrians are forced to walk on the road,” Sathish added.
When DT Next visited the spot, several two-wheelers were parked on the pavement near the junction. A few metres away, autorickshaws were parked, inside which the drivers were taking a nap. The auto stand is followed by bunk shops and pushcarts. “We could not ask them to clear the pavement as they are locals,” said Sathish.
There is a playground and a park on the road, near which there are scores of cold drink shops that have popped up on the pavement, hindering the pedestrians, he said.
Another risk that the pedestrians here face is the speeding vehicles, which make use of the less crowd and congestion on the road. “As the road is free most of the time, motorists tend to overspeed making it unsafe for pedestrians,” he said. While the north of the road is filled with shops and illegal parking, south of the road along Cooum river is encroached upon by gypsies who make and sell bamboo furniture on the pavement. They have also set up tents on the riverbank and have been permanently residing there.
“A few months ago, there were only a few tents. But now the number of families residing on the riverbank has increased. Even though they are making a living in the road owing to lack of other option, the government should regulate them,” Lakshman, a rider said.
When contacted, a Chennai Corporation official conceded that not only the Spur Tank Road, but several roads have been encroached by illegal bunk shops. “The High Court had given permission to only 108 bunk shops run by persons with disabilities, who are allowed to sell on pavements across the city. Apart from these 108 shops, all the other shops are illegal,” he said.
“We are demarcating vending and non-vending zones in the city. Once the process gets completed, roadside shops would be regulated,” the official added.