Vendors offer safety, say pedestrians

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For IT professional K. Selvi, 26, the Guindy subway is safe at night only because of the petty traders there. “I take the last train to my house in Kodambakkam. I find the petty traders in the subway helpful. Their presence gives me comfort to use the dark subway,” she said.

These pavement dwellers are often accused of encroaching on pedestrian space and subways. But people like Selvi say that they feel confident of using the roads and subways as these traders guard the neighbourhoods.

City planners say the corporation should study the advantages of vendors and chalk out a plan to improve pedestrian space without driving them out.

Malliga and her husband Ravi, who sell vegetables in T Nagar, said, “Residents complain that we occupy road space. We sell fresh greens and our shop is closed within three hours in the mornings. We cannot afford to get rental space.”

Experts say friendly infrastructure for pedestrians and pavement dwellers is the need of the hour. “We have abundant space in commercial areas like T Nagar, Anna Nagar and Mylapore.

But we did not plan for utilisation of pavement space. The Times Square, which used to be a crowded commercial spot in New York, has now been converted into a highly utilised space and beautiful spot. Vendors also were not removed,” said director of Chennai City Connect Raj Cherubal.

He added that city planners marked the right spots for vendors and provided ample space for pedestrians.

Pedestrians battle it out at Purasai

Purasawalkam, the commercial hub of Central and North Chennai, which drew its name from the abundance of ‘Purasai’ trees once upon a time, has now transformed into a concrete jungle and hit by traffic congestion thanks to mushrooming shops and malls that have also encroached upon pavements.

Walking on the bustling Purasawalkam high road dotted by commercial shops for more than three km from Kellys to Vepery, amidst speeding buses, has become a dreadful experience, complain pedestrians.

And Tana Street, one of the busiest streets of Purasawalkam, akin to Mint street, has turned out to be a haven for hawkers and vendors, denying walking space for pedestrians.

“The ever-growing commercial activities have only lead to lack of parking space with visitors parking unmindfully on roads and pavements thanks to the inaction of officials and cops,” says Siva, a resident of Chellappa Mudali street.

“Hundreds of students studying in over 15 educational institutions walk dangerously on the roads, risking their life. Despite several complaints, civic authorities have not restored the pavements.”

Residents of several streets branching Tana Street, a bustling market area, complained about hawkers and vendors occupying the pavements and roads.

“This busy street was once a wide road but has been reduced to a lane. Hawkers and vendors occupy a major portion of roads,” complains Mr Mukund Narayanan, a resident of Veerasamy Mudali Street.

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