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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

T Nagar in news because of activity – this time by Corporation & CMDA

Many from rural villages land in Chennai chasing their dreams … many come for employment in shops and establishments..  in this locality, if you are to observe in early morning – you can watch group of young boys or girls happily and noisily talking to themselves walking as if ‘ants in a queueline’ – enter a building and come out in a few seconds draped in uniforms of that establishment… !  - it is this crowded place, which is in news !!.

Chennai has less to offer for the tourists;– Thegaraya Nagar – more popularly known as T Nagar is a popular destination, a  place frequented by all those who come to Chennai. It has everything for people of all walks of life… from platform shops, pedlars, small shops to sprawling shops – mainly textiles and of course Gold jewellers.  Some of the famous shops selling textiles include :  Nalli, Kumaran Textiles, Pothys, Chennai Silks, Kumaran Stores, Sri Krishna, Murugan Textiles, Textiles India, Saravana Stores, Saravana Selvarathinam Stores, Jayachandra Textiles and more…  Usman Road bustles with crowds and one cannot enter  Ranganatham Street on festive occasions.  Saravana & Jayachandra are known for their low prices and crowds throng these shops often buying for the entire family for a marriage or for other occasion… 

Black money is the theme of many movies and the talk in many places – there are reports that in a rare kind of crackdown,  the Income Tax has launched an offensive against those who have stashed unaccounted wealth overseas.  Reportedly, Tax Dept has conducted more than 50,  following  receipts of details regarding 700 bank accounts from the French government.  How much these moves would impact evaded tax and bring back the stashed money back to the motherland is views with skepticism.   But a more stronger action made in Chennai has caught the headlines of all newspapers today. 

Of late, the Madras High Court has aggressively pulled up the authorities for dragging their feet on building violations.  Yesterday on a swift move, the Chennai Corporation and the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) sealed 25 buildings in the shopping hub of T Nagar  a day before a contempt case was to come up in court.The buildings sealed were among the 64 unauthorized high-rise structures identified in 2007 for demolition.  The Agencies had earlier issued show cause notices to structures for blatant violation of setback norms, parking rules and fire safety mechanisms.  Some of these buildings had floor space index (FSI) of nine as against authoried 1.5. 
The big players who found their shutters pulled down included : Jayachandran Textiles, Anbazhagan Pazhakadai, Saravana Stores, Shobha, Shanmugha stores, Textile India, Ambika Appalam Depot, Kalanjiam, Saravana Sweets and Rathna Stores on Ranganathan Street,and Omar Khayyam restaurant, Sree devi Gold, Archana Sweets, Chennai Silks, Sree Kumaran Thanga Maligai, Khadims,Hot Chips and Balu Jewellery on South Usman Road.

It is stated that this operation will continue and more buildings might be sealed.  About 50% have violations that can be regularized after partial demolition. The rest are illegal and have to be brought down.  It had its impact on the common man and on a large community of people earning their livelihood by employment in these establishments.   Reportedly in one establishment, employees refused to leave stating that they had not been paid their salaries

The constructions and the violations were never an overnight affair… the shops had mushroomed over the years but the violations had been so huge.. it will require very huge resources of men, machines, resources and even more stronger a will, if the authorities decide to raze all illegal structures.  Most of the violated structures would not even fall under the relaxed norms prescribed by the CMDA in the second master plan in Sept 2008.  Hence, demolishing a few floors alone  would not help if the rule has to be followed in letter and spirit.

For long officials and authorities had remained mute spectators to the rampant violations but the Court is bent on bringing order on the construction front, the affected parties are exploring all loopholes to open another round of litigation. The present action, if taken to its logical end would change the landscape of the City and would drastically impair the living of those who are earning out a living in these shops.   There are shops which have existed for many decades and some where you get everything from a pin to gold chain. Citing their economic plight, the shop owners contend that they had been continuing their trade in this manner in these buildings for so many years and why ‘action suddenly’

Though one can sympathise with the staff – a perpetuation of a mistake need not grant it any immunity.  One cannot argue when caught for non-possession of a Driving License  that one has been driving on roads for years without a license and how can the Police take action on a particular day ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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