Struggling with congestion and the resultant chaos at the bustling Koyambedu perishable commodities market, the hub for vegetables, fruits and flower trade, the city police have evolved a plan to streamline traffic in and around the sprawling market complex.
First step would be earmarking and developing space for parking the hundreds of small, medium and heavy vehicles that come to the market every day.
In association with the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, the city police have identified six spots that would be developed as parking lots for both customers and traders to put an order in place.
In all, more than four lakh square feet space have been identified, where as many as 550 heavy vehicles and more than 50 small load vehicles, and 500 two-wheelers and 75 cars can be parked. The first phase would be completed in the next two months.
“We have held many rounds of meetings with the other agencies, and hope to complete the work at least by May,” City Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan told DTNext. Among the six spaces identified, work on two that can accommodate 500 two-wheelers (35,000 sq ft) and 75 cars (23,500 sq ft) is nearing completion.
“We are expecting to give the final touches for the two in the next few days,” said I Eswaran, Deputy Commissioner (Traffic – West), who has been closely involved with the project since he took charge.
Paid parking system:
The plan is to provide specific parking spaces for heavy vehicles, vans and small load vehicles that carry commodities for retailers, and individual customers’ two-wheelers and cars.
For the latter, space has been earmarked across the road from the vegetable market. The site for commercial vehicles is planned at the rear of the market, on the one side of A-road, said an officer.
“We don’t want any vehicle to be parked inside the market. They will have to move out to the designated parking area once the commodities are unloaded. It will be a paid parking system,” the officer said.
However, a portion of space identified is currently encroached upon, which would be removed, he added. As part of efforts to decongest the area, the private buses that start from the parking lot on E-road are being asked to take B-road to reach Poonamallee High Road.
The police department is also coordinating with the City Corporation and CMDA to widen Kaliyamman Koil Street, the road between the market and the bus terminus that goes from Koyambedu to Virugambakkam. As the road belongs to CMDA, the civic body has already written to it for ‘enter up on’ permission. Once it is granted, the Corporation would take over the maintenance of the road from the CMDA.
Widening the next stretch – from the bridge across Virugambakkam canal through Virugambakkam market up to Arcot Road – would not be easy, as more than 230 traders on both the sides of the road refused to vacate and approached the court against eviction. Corporation officials said they would assist the police in clearing the encroachments once the land-owning department (CMDA in this case) initiates the process.
“The corporation will extend support with men, material and other coordination for removing encroachments,” a senior official told DTNext.
CMDA officials, too, added that the encroachments would be removed soon to clear land for the proposed parking lots. Together with the Greater Chennai Corporation, the CMDA would soon issue notices to the shops that encroach upon the road margins, said a senior engineer in charge of the market.
‘Officials responsible for the chaos’
VR Soundararajan, president of Koyambedu Wholesale Traders Welfare Association and a member of the Market Management Committee, blamed officials for the present chaos. “We have long been demanding for such a facility for parking. However, officials turned a blind eye to this,” alleged Soundararajan, pointing out how, in the absence of a separate parking space, vehicles were parked haphazardly in the premises. Every day, around 350 lorries with vegetables and fruits come to the market from various districts and other states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. “In such a situation, the officials should realise that allotting parking space is essential,” he said.