The plan for the development of T’ Nagar into a more ergonomic area as compared to its present urban chaos is now more or less finalised. Mooted in April 2010, the scheme has gone through a process of public consultation. The consultants deputed for the task have presented their final recommendations to the Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited (TNUIFSL), the nodal agency responsible for this scheme. TNUIFSL will, in turn, present it to the Corporation which will debate it and then implement the approved aspects of the plan.
Following the public consultation, some changes have been made in the plan. The ideas that were dropped include the construction of a four-lane road under Panagal Park together with an underground parking lot at the same location. The plan to construct a multi-level car park at the T’Nagar bus stand has also gone. Instead, two new bus termini will be built, one at Valluvar Kottam and the other at Saidapet. These, it is expected, will reduce the congestion in T’Nagar.
It is learnt that there are proposals to pedestrianise parts of the area. Whether this is the same as the original plan to build aerial pathways for those on foot is not clear. Also not clear is what is meant by the suggestion that Panagal Park would be redesigned. In an area that is already notorious for having the maximum air-borne particulate content in the city, any reduction to the green lung that is Panagal Park is sure to meet with stiff resistance. The document has also made the usual noises about better traffic management and improvement in drainage.
Even when the plans were first mooted, it was noticed that the entire scheme was focussed on the transitory population – the shoppers – and not the local residents. Residents complain that they had not been considered as stakeholders, with the plan talking of shops, shoppers, vehicle-users, hawkers and the staff of the establishments in the neighbourhood.
That aspect remains essentially the same. The scheme is silent on how the local residents are to cope with the rampant spread of shopping malls and stores, without a thought to the surrounding infrastructure and quality of life. The latest such instance is the development of a seven-storied shopping centre for a well-known clothes store on a narrow stretch of GN Chetty Road, right next to the flyover. How permission was given for such construction is a mystery.
Theyagaroya Nagar, or T’Nagar as it is better known, is an area that most people in the city would agree symbolises chaos. While it may be a shoppers’ paradise, years of uncontrolled growth has made it an urban nightmare. The area near Panagal Park also serves as a vital traffic link and with increasing traffic density it remains choked for the better part of the day. One hundred thousand footfalls and three times that many vehicles move around the area on a daily basis. Residents of the area have rightly lamented about living there becoming more and more stressful. In the past few years the area has also witnessed fire accidents aggravated by faulty planning of buildings. The area is also well known for illegal extensions and encroachments, which are periodically removed in high-profile drives.
The success of the present scheme hinges on how much of it finally makes it to actual implementation and how effectively that implementation is done. Past instances have shown that parts of entire plans are taken out of context and implemented. That only adds to the chaos. Will that also happen in the case of T’Nagar? Only time will tell.