CMDA plans to ‘downsize’ CMBT, free up Koyambedu

CHENNAI: Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus () could be confined to city operations as Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority () plans to shift long-distance bus operations to three terminals on the outskirts as part of its plan to decongest Koyambedu.

If the proposal sails through, crores invested to integrate metro rail and buses originating from the city could be wasted. The metro rail station inside CMBT links three modes of transport — bus, rail and air. It aids those landing at the airport and arriving at the to take onward buses to the districts.

“The facility could be utilised by Metropolitan Transport Corporation fleets,” a senior CMDA official told TOI. While an intercity terminus would be soon inaugurated at Madhavaram for buses bound for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the government is establishing a similar facility at Kilambakkam on GST Road for buses heading towards southern districts. CMDA is looking for land near Poonamallee for fleets proceeding to Bengaluru, Dharmapuri and Vellore plying via Sriperumpudur.

The plan has left urban planners divided with some accusing the CMDA of poor planning given that Koyambedu emerged as a major transit hub in the city after commissioning of metro rail services at CMBT. The second phase of metro rail will have another station at Koyambedu.

Founder president of Association of Builders for Chennai Development A Balasubramani said CMDA did not have long-term plans. “Who will come to board MTC buses at Koyambedu if mofussil services are not available? Under the garb of decongestion, a new intercity bus terminus would be thrown open for the public at Madhavaram which is already experiencing heavy traffic,” he said. Madhavaram does not have any rail link and proposed metro rail will take years to get commissioned. Balasubramani said investment on such projects would ultimately end up as wasteful expenditure.

But retired professor of urban engineering at , K P Subramanian, said the government was moving in the right direction in shifting the bus terminus. “CMDA should have created decentralised directional bus terminus instead of having a centralised facility at Koyambedu. They have taken right decision now,” he said.

Besides moving out buses, the adjoining Koyambedu Wholesale Market Complex would be limited to retail traders. “The market would be for the retail traders and wholesale traders would be moved to the suburbs,” the official said. Though CMDA considered a piece of land belonging to the Hindu religious and endowment charitable department at Nandivaram in Guduvancherry for the purpose, the location was rejected because only 14 acres were available.

Traders at Koyambedu opposed the move saying it would hit the livelihood of seven lakh people who depend on the wholesale market. Koyambedu All Vegetable Market Association advisor V R Soundararajan said about 40% traders in vegetable business are retail traders. “The shops were purchased under self-finance scheme. Moving the wholesale traders out of Koyambedu will have an adverse impact on vegetable trade across the city as 64 markets in Chennai depend on us for supply,” he said.

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