Street smart vendors hold out against tourism plans

Proposal remains on paper even after eight months

Opposition to relocation by roadside vendors remains a stumbling block to implementation of tourism development plans around the Rockfort and neighbouring areas in the city under Smart City proposal.

The proposal was among the first mooted by Tiruchirappalli Smart City Limited soon after Tiruchi was chosen by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2017 for implementing Smart City Initiative.

A high-power committee led by the Finance Secretary cleared the tourism development project in June last. A sum of ₹45.23 crore was originally allotted to the project and was later revised to ₹39.10 crore following a few modifications.

Illumination of Mainguard Gate and Rockfort temple, beautification of the temple tank (Teppakulam), development of War Memorial and establishment of a Heritage Park were among the important components of the tourism development project. Introduction of pleasure boating service, restructuring the roads around the Teppakulam tank, sound and light show, highlighting the historical background of the city also formed part of the beautification plans around the Rockfort and the Teppakulam.

Almost eight months have passed since the project was cleared, but the Corporation is yet to call for tenders for the project.

Opposition to relocation from roadside vendors on NSB Road, Nandhi Kovil Street and Chinnakadai Street, and delay over securing mandatory clearance from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for carrying out development works around the Rockfort and Main Guard Gate are said to have delayed the project.

Soon after the announcement of the project, street vendors were up in arms against it. Fearing eviction, a large number of them staged a demonstration at the Collectorate. They also brought the issue to the notice of Tourism Minister Vellamandi N. Natarajan.

They continue to petition the Collector and the Corporation Commissioner to ensure their livelihood.

It is learnt that the ASI posed queries when the Corporation sought clearance for the Rockfort and Main Guard Gate development project. The Corporation is said to have answered the queries.

N. Ravichandran, Commissioner, Tiruchi Corporation, told The Hindu that the civic body carried out a survey of street vendors operating on NSB Road.

Assuring that their livelihood would be protected, Mr. Ravichandran said the Corporation had identified an alternative location for the street vendors.

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