No takers for Pondy Bazaar hawkers’ complex
By Janane Venkatraman - CHENNAI
31st July 2012 08:38 AM
With the festival season approaching, neither hawkers criss-crossing the bylanes of Pondy Bazaar nor shoppers have found relief from the congestion.
The complex built for the hawkers in March 2011 here still lies under lock and key, as hawkers say they’d rather sell their wares on the street.
The three-storied structure, built on a budget of roughly Rs 4.5 crore, lies right behind the flower shops on Pondy Bazaar. A plan for re-locating the hawkers came up in 2003, after a Madras High Court-appointed committee came out with its report. But the facilities provided are not enough, said hawkers. “There is a single hall on each floor, interspersed with the building’s beams. There are no facilities for the hawkers to store their wares and there is no guarantee that our things will be safe at night,” said M Devadasan, head of the Pondy Bazaar Traders’ Welfare Association.
The building has provision for the 650-odd hawkers identified by the committee, but they have been allocated only an area of 5 x 5 feet as against the 10 x 10 feet demanded by the hawkers.
“A 5 x 5 feet area wouldn’t be enough for a table and two people, let alone all the wares. The columns of the building also eat up into the space. Even an 8 x 10 feet space would be better,” said Devadasan.
Some of the traders also claim that the building has 72 toilets. “It is a building of 18,000 sq ft. What will we do with so many toilets? First, ask the Corporation to give us more space to sell our wares,” one of them said. The building also has two lifts to facilitate transport of goods. The shifting was initially delayed because the shopkeepers who sold their wares on the land the complex is built upon, were allocated the third floor. “Around 125 members have been here for more than 75 years. We wanted the ground floor, so we filed a case. So far, only hundred of us have got our allotments shifted to the ground floor. Others are still waiting,” said Devadasan.
But other traders who were allotted the third floor now want space on the first floor. “We’ve also been here for quite sometime, why should we be allotted the third floor? Why would people climb three flights of stairs to buy turmeric?” asked a trader, who sells pooja material. Devadasan said the association was backing these traders. “As long as they don’t demand space on the ground floor, we are quite happy to help them,” he said. Corporation officials said that cases for changing allotments had been filed in the Supreme Court. “They are still pending and the court has ordered a status quo on the project. So we’re waiting for the verdict to take further steps,” said a Corporation official. Corporation Commissioner D Karthikeyan indicated that the cases might be heard sometime next month.
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