Kodambakkam’s unending battle with encroachments

Across Kodambakkam, encroachments such as illegally parked vehicles and eateries taking up pavements has been a persistent issue.

Kodambakkam’s bustling food scene and shopping are experiences enjoyed by visitors. But long-time residents of the area have found that this has led to an increase in encroachments, affecting our quality of life.

Since a large part of the locality has turned mixed-use, with commercial establishments coexisting with residences, encroachments have become a common issue in the area. Residents have banded together to raise the matter with the Greater Chennai Corporation to make the locality more livable and navigable. But the many years of working on this issue have shown that with a lack of proper will on the part of the authorities, the efforts of residents can only yield temporary results.

Read more: Vehicles and vendors take over Chennai footpaths despite encroachment removal drives

History of encroachments in Kodambakkam

The issue of encroachments in Kodambakkam goes as far back as the early 1990s. This was when groups like Exnora were formed to provide a platform to improve cleanliness in the city.

At that time, we had some initial success in removing encroachments that obstructed our roads due to the authorities in-charge taking a strong stand against the usurping of public spaces. 

As more and more commercial establishments such as eateries and small shops began emerging in the area, they have been claiming spaces that they do not have rights over.

Pavements are dotted with name boards of shops, seating for customers, pushcarts, bins and other wares.

Many interior roads are already narrow, with poor or no pavements. When whatever space is available on the road is claimed by encroachments, this forces pedestrians, especially the elderly, to put themselves in the path of danger by walking on the roads. 

pedestrian walking on kodambakkam street
Pedestrians are forced to walk on the streets due to encroachments. Pic: Vasanthi Kannan

What happens when complaints are raised against encroachments

The key concern we have been raising for decades, and which still holds true is that due to the presence of encroachments, pedestrians and vehicles are greatly affected.

Some of the key areas which see encroachments in Kodambakkam are Station View Road, Railway Border Road, United India Colony Main Road, Viswanathapuram Main Road, Rangarajapuram Main Road, Akbarabad, Taylor’s Estate and Arcot Road. 

shops take over pavement
Eateries take up pavement space. Pic: Vasanthi Kannan

In my personal capacity, I have raised many complaints to have temporary and permanent encroachments removed. But what I have found is that often, within a few days, the structures that were removed are back again at the same spot or somewhere nearby.

Lack of action by the police and the support of politicians for some of the encroachments are key reasons why residents continue to suffer in the area. Accidents have become increasingly common as a result.

Read more: Walking in Koyambedu, OMR or Chennai Central? Be cautious, warns study

Handling encroachments in Kodambakkam

Both the Traffic Police and Law and Order Police should act with more alacrity in removing encroachments. There should be no political interference when it comes to the removal of illegal structures. Additionally, tough action must be taken against the illegal parking of vehicles on pavements. 

Both the civic body and law enforcement authorities must work together. We often hear that due to a lack of coordination, the encroachments are not removed or returned to the same spot.

New structures such as places of worship or temporary eateries must be prevented from being established on the roadside and existing establishments must be monitored for violations. 

Only deterrents such as the imposition of heavy penalties, towing of illegally parked vehicles and shutting down of shops and eateries that are encroaching on public space can prevent this recurring issue in Kodambakkam and other parts of the city. 

The civic body creating a dedicated task force for this purpose could also be a welcome move.

Even as I write this, I have found that some encroachments that I had complained against and were removed are back in the same spot in my locality.

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  1. Lakshminarayanan K S says:

    Thanks for highlighting encroachment problems in Kodambakkam. Really it’s a big menace. Thanks for raising the issue

  2. C P Muralidharan says:

    Akbarabad 1st and 2nd Street is full of rowdies who creates problems by parking in front of the gates. Most of them are encroachers

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