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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pedestrian plaza experiment at T Nagar Pondy Bazaar

Is it possible to decongest road ? – what would be people’s reaction ??

Chennai is overcrowded.  There are traffic snarls everywhere.  Those visiting Chennai could afford to miss Chennai Central / Egmore  but not the bustling Thyagaraya Nagar (T Nagar) – the textile kingdom -  famous of them being : Nalli Silks, Kumaran Silks, Kumaran Stores, the Pothys, Chennai Silks, Saravana Stores, Jayachandras, Sri Krishna Collection and many more on the pavements and on multistoreyed buildings ………… there are equal no. of shops selling gold ornaments and any given day you can find maddening crowd of people buying gold, silk, textiles and many many more things. It would take special skills to navigate inside Ranganathan Street housing Saravanas, Jayachandras on festival days.  …. .. .. till recently, the pavement shops of Pondy Bazaar were attractive ! 
crowds at Ranganathan Street

From the arterial Mount Road at Teynampet Junction [Aalayamman Temple] – this straight road leads to Panagal Park – half of the stretch is the famous Pondy Bazaar – the area is quite famous for its market – there are so many shops – Garment [Cambridge / Naidu Hall / Ramraj / Big Bazaar  to name some]; Hotels [Saravana Bhvan, Hot Chips, Geetha Café, Andhra hotel …. ..]; pearl and jewel shops / couple of plazas / Ratna Stores; row of flower shops and much more besides the pavement shops that once existed.

Pondy Bazaar, officially is  Soundarapandian Angadi, named after politician W. P. A. Soundarapandian Nadar whose statue is situated in the square.  T Nagar suffers from slow-moving traffic. To ease the traffic, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation diverted buses going to the T. Nagar bus terminus that used to go via Pondy Bazaar.
In Nov 20, a trial run of Pedestrian plaza at T Nagar was tried out and today was the second attempt.   It was tried at area  from Bashyam Road (Panagal Park) to Dr Nair Road from 8 am to 5 pm as part of the Smart City plan of Greater Chennai Corporation. Only Metropolitan buses and two-wheelers were allowed on Pondy bazaar and vehicle parking was totally banned on sides of the road.  Eco-friendly battery operated cars were operated within pedestrian zone on both the sides of Thyagaraya Road to take care of senior citizen, differently abled, children and pregnant women for the short distance commutation within the pedestrian plaza zone, a Corporation press release said.

In addition, to enhance interest among pedestrians/shopping commuters, some activities on health, drawing competition and recreational activities on smart city for children and appropriate street plays  were done. 

While buses ran, Cars, autos, share autos, vans were denied plying on Thyagaraya Road. The vehicles were diverted at Dr Nair Road to pass through Thanikachalam Road.   Vehicles were directed to parked at  Multi Level Parking (MLP) Site opposite to Hindustan Petroleum bunk on Thanikachalam Road and  on the on-street parking space available between Boag road junction and Dr Nair road junction.

By mid-noon, the road appeared eased of traffic and free for people to walk. The immediate response was one of welcome, yet only time will tell whether this operable and whether people will appreciate the measure, having to bear with some small inconveniences.  Here are some photos taken today at T Nagar Pondy bazaar. 

Some will recall that  in May 1982, there was exchange of fire -  LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran and rival Uma Maheswaran exchanged fire at Pondy Bazaar – a couple of persons were injured too.  After 3 decades , a city court  formally dropped charges as both of them were not arrested and are not alive !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Feb 2017.


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