The bustling shopping area of Pondy Bazaar in T Nagar has seen many changes over the last few years. For many, the street provides a one-stop solution to all they may need. Just take a walk down the street and you can get anything, from freshly ground coffee powder to large household appliances, all at various prices.
Pondy Bazaar was famous for its pavements lined with small shops and street vendors who sat outside the larger outlets that were found on either side. The stretch where most of the shopping took place was also one that was least pedestrian-friendly. This changed in 2013 when the Madras High Court order that all the shops that were set up on the pavement must be moved to a building constructed by the Corporation of Chennai and the pavement must be made free of shops or any encroachments.Since then, the shops have been operating out of the building.
The plan for a pedestrian plaza in T. Nagar was in the works much before the launch of the Smart Cities Mission. The Corporation of Chennai created a blueprint for a pedestrian-friendly walking path in the area. However, the plans did not see the light of day until the project was included in the ambit of the Smart Cities Mission.
The Pedestrian Plaza was formally inaugurated in November 2019, six years after the relocation of the vendors from the pavements of Pondy Bazaar. In the second of our five-part series, Raj Cherubal, CEO of Chennai Smart City Limited, discusses at length the work that went into the conceptualisation and creation of the Pedestrian Plaza, which, at Rs 40 crores, is one of the major projects that have been completed to date.
From dispelling the initial skepticism around the need for such a project to balancing concerns among shopkeepers, there were various challenges that had to be overcome in the creation of the plaza. Raj speaks of the various efforts to build consensus in creating the plaza and the positive response that the plaza has garnered since its launch.
Watch this video to find out more about the idea behind the creation of the plaza and the challenges and opportunities presented by the project:
[Interviewed by Laasya Shekhar]