October 15, 2009

Commercialisation of residential areas

Scandalous details and raw skeletons are tumbling out of a simple investigation that a colleague of mine has undertaken in the Adyar neighbourhood. And it has to do with retail businesses.
If you thought only the Ambanis bent the rules and cosied up with the mighty and the powerful, you are wrong.
The men and women who promote businesses in your colonies also do the same.
The current assignment is a simple one.
This person is looking at how the neighbourhood came to be created, the core details that are outlined in the Master Plan for our city and for this area, the zoning, the development guidelines and the special exemptions accorded in special cases.
In the course of a preliminary study, the facts that tumble out stink.
Here is one case.
When the owners of a bungalow in a quiet residential zone moved on and the land was for sale, it was bought by young entrepreneurs who had done well early in life and people who had dreams and ambitions.
But the rules did not allow for setting up a retail business in the colony.
To circumvent the rule and make the best use of certain exemptions, they submitted that their trade was a cottage industry. The sort which was low profile and quiet, the sort which involved the community.
In months, a swanky showroom came up and but no means was this a cottage industry of the sort you will come across on the fringes of our city.
As the buzz went around, cars and shoppers began to freely use what was once a quiet corner of this neighbourhood and the business carried on well till a spat broke out between the businessmen and some residents over parking.
The spat led to an investigation and it seems to demonstrate how the rules have been bent to run the business with no regard for the local community.
As ambitious businesses target neighbourhoods the rules fly out of the window.
The damages are serious. Residential areas are encroached upon, streets are taken over for ‘reserved parking’ and the peace and quiet is lost forever.
Citizens then must act to stop marauding businesses. Sadly, they can hope to get some relief only if they take these issues to court.

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