Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVI No. 07, July 16-31, 2016
It would appear that our contribution towards the Buckingham Canal has largely been to let it go to seed. We have also done the utmost damage that we could – by building the MRTS on the bed of the waterway, thereby rendering ineffective all efforts to revive it as a navigable canal. Now it appears that Andhra, our newly formed neighbour, has some really constructive plans as far as the Canal is concerned. And has in the process ensured that the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which had its office in Chennai till recently, moved to Vijayawada.
Early in April this year, the Andhra Government inked a Rs 3,000 crore agreement with the IWAI by which the entire canal ecosystem that falls within the State will be redeveloped as National Waterway No 4. With around 888 km of the 1,095 km of the canal being within Andhra, the State views it as a crucial component of its infrastructure. A study has shown that it has the potential to transport around 11 million tonnes of cargo each year. Five districts, East and West Godavari, Krishna, Nellore and Prakasam – are expected to benefit immensely. Moreover, Andhra has other plans – it aims to link the Godavari and Krishna rivers and the Eluru Canal with the Buckingham Canal, thereby making for a comprehensive waterway network within the State. This is not a new idea, for the Buckingham Canal was declared a national waterway in 2008 when a Rs 1,500 crore scheme for its revival was announced. Since then nothing much has happened and the cost has doubled but it is felt that the Andhra Government is in right earnest this time around. It also has plans to develop tourism alongside the canal.
It is in the light of the above developments, and also the heightened pace of activity connected with the new Andhra capital at Amaravati, that the IWAI has decided to shift its regional office from Chennai to Vijayawada. The office was set up in Chennai in 2014, principally to oversee the development of the stretch of Buckingham Canal between Sholinganallur and Marakkanam. However the experience thus far has not been a happy one, what with the State Government being fairly non-responsive to the requirements of the IWAI and the latter also receiving considerable flak from the National Green Tribunal for various aspects of its functioning. The IWAI has consistently been unsure of its mandate within Tamil Nadu. In the aftermath of the floods of November/December 2015, it was believed that there would be closer coordination between the State Government and the IWAI, especially as the Canal is considered to hold the key for any future deluges. But this has not happened and now the IWAI is itself moving.
The Law has spoken once again, and it is yet another judgement in favour of heritage conservation. The latest instance is the public interest litigation concerning the Royapuram railway station at present the oldest surviving station in the entire Indian subcontinent. Their Lordships not only refused to countenance its demolition to make way for development of a new station but also suggested that the railways take up modernisation keeping the heritage structure intact.
When this matter was referred to the High Court, we at Madras Musings had wondered if litigation was the only way to save heritage structures. We had stated that repeated recourse to the Law puts conservationists on a confrontation path with respect to those in administration. But we are happy to have been proven wrong. Clearly, if there is at all a saviour of heritage, it is the judicial process. Those who are in the executive, on the other hand, have largely wreaked havoc on our historic structures. And appealing to them does not result in any positive action.
Keezhadi is a village 12 km from Madurai. The staff of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), scouting for information on potential ‘dig’ sites in the districts of Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram and along the Vaigai river from 2013, heard of Keezhadi as a village where potsherds were regularly found while tilling the soil. Amarnath Ramakrishna, an ASI superintending archaeologist, followed this up, dug 53 trenches and has nearly 60 people digging carefully, collecting shards, antiquities and other clues to life from an ancient era.
The site promises to become one of South India’s greatest archaeological discoveries, it is said. People are comparing it to Indus Valley sites. However, even if what is found is at least of the Sangam age, that dates the site to 500 BCE, a significant discovery even if it is a millennium after the last stage of the Indus Valley civilisation (2600-1600 BCE).
Panagal Park is perhaps one of the best-known landmarks of our city, one that even new comers are familiar with.
Though it is a vital lung for the T’Nagar area, it makes it to the news chiefly for the wrong reasons – the traffic congestion around it, the buildings that have come up on its periphery in flagrant violation of rules, and the multi-tiered parking complex that is forever on the verge of being built.
Steven A Pinto writes: Mumbai’s first garden-under-flyover was recently inaugurated and named the Nanalal D. Mehta Garden. It is located under the Tulpule Flyover on Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road.