Central junction still under lockdown blues

On a regular day, one would have to jostle with countless number of pedestrians, roadside traders and vehicles among others to cross busy Poonamallee High Road in front of the MGR Chennai Central railway station.
There hardly is any crowd to use the subways, escalators and zebra crossing on EVR Periyar Road
There hardly is any crowd to use the subways, escalators and zebra crossing on EVR Periyar Road

Chennai

 But now, after the pandemic lockdown disrupted life, there hardly is any crowd to use the subways, escalators and zebra crossing.
 Though the city reopened after the government relaxed the restrictions on most of the establishments, the situation is grim for the traders and vendors at the junction, once considered to be among the prime business locations even ahead of Broadway and Parry’s Corner.
 In the last two days when DT Next visited the spot, the only ones to be spotted on the road were Health Department staff, railway employees and those on COVID duty, who were seen shuttling between the Ripon Building, Southern Railway headquarters and Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital.
 “Only government employees are using the landmark junction. About 100 book vendors have lost livelihood,” said Kasim Mohammad of Khan Book Stores in Moore Market Complex. The situation would return to normalcy only when the suburban train services are resumed, he added.
 “Of the more than 150 lodges and three dozen messes at adjacent Periamet, almost 70 per cent have lost business and are not able to pay electricity and water charges, and property tax. Tax defaulters in Periamet have increased by more than 40 per cent in the past three months,” a Corporation tax collector from Zone 5 told DT Next.
 “After remaining closed or partially closed for six consecutive months, several traders at Allikullam Moore Market Complex have become paupers,” said R Ramadoss, an MDMK functionary who owns a few shops there. Noting how the locality has remained deserted, he demanded concessions in utility charges.
 Almost all traders, including those who run hotels, lodges, eateries, tour operators, hardware, plywood, chemical companies that are located near the junction, have no business, Ramadoss added.
 On the brighter side, business is picking up at Broadway and Parry’s Corner, to an extent that finding space for parking vehicles has become tough – as it used to be in the pre-COVID days.

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