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Haphazard parking plagues Broadway

By Swahilya

CHENNAI, MAY 15. Broadway, now called Prakasam Salai, is today hardly a broad way. The carriageway is cluttered with encroachments, haphazard parking of vehicles — mostly lorries — and heaps of uncleared garbage. The heavy traffic movement is stifled seriously.

N. Nandakumar, who has been residing in his 150-year-old ancestral house for 69 years, recalls how Broadway was once free from traffic and the houses had big courtyards.

Today, the scene is quite the opposite with lorry traffic causing congestion. Despite regulations, the lorries travel throughout the day carrying anything from gas cylinders, iron beams, furniture, bicycles and hardware, creating a lot of noise during loading and unloading operations.

Pervez Bhagat, who owns a hardware store in Broadway, says Loane Square was a major problem, especially due to haphazard parking until three months ago. Now it has been cleared to a great extent.

However, the road, which was one-way from Bharati Women's College to N.S.C. Bose Road, has now been made two-way for over a year now. "The delay is so long as vehicles have to wait for signals in six places," he said.

Residents point out that three years ago there was a proposal to build a flyover across the NSC Bose Road with two subways on either side of the Broadway junction. But the scheme still remains only on paper.

Waterlogging is a major problem that remains unsolved. Rainwater stagnates despite the repairs to the drains. "During the recent rains, Broadway was totally waterlogged. There is knee-deep water even if it rains for 30 minutes," Mr. Bhagat says. Water gets into cars and shops during heavy rains.

The Loane Square Park and the old Law College Hostel have been occupied by slum dwellers. "People have put up their huts on all narrow by-lanes that are linked to Broadway, affecting free movement of road users," Mr. Nandakumar says The hostel, which once served as an air raid shelter during the great war, is today a picture of neglect, he says.

Residents say the poultry market near the road was a major health hazard.

On weekends, poultry waste is disposed into the schools nearby. "It has become an eyesore for the entire George Town area," notes a long-time resident.

Noman Millwala, president of the Broadway Business Association, says that though encroachments are cleared after repeated appeals to the Chennai Corporation, they seem reappear every time.

Garbage clearance is a major problem, Mr. Millwala says, pointing out that only a systematic mechanism through a private agency can solve the situation.

Once the heart of Chennai's `blacktown' in the early British period, today's city managers seem to show little concern for preserving one of Chennai's oldest neighbourhoods.

Conservation enthusiasts, as also Broadway residents call for serious efforts to focus on civic improvements as also to protect the old landmark structures in the area.

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