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Vol. XXVI No. 24, April 1-15, 2017

Archives: Vol. XXVI No. 24, April 1-15, 2017


A financial & intellectual deficit

(By The Editor)

The annual Budget for Tamil Nadu was passed amidst what can only be termed as Masonic secrecy. It made it to the news only after the passage of the Finance Bill and, when it became public, it did not make for good reading. Tamil Nadu, often held up as a model state, not only showed a record deficit, it would appear that the Government does not have a clue as to what needs to be done to stem the rot either.

The State’s finances were termed by experts to be in a shambles even before the Budget was presented and the final figures when revealed did not provide for any comfort either. The fiscal deficit stood at 4.58 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). This was in clear violation of the 3 per cent norm stipulated by the Fiscal Responsibility Management Act. The State Government has of course, blamed it on several factors – demonetisation, sluggishness of the world(!), and Indian economy, and most laughably, fall in revenue owing to the ban imposed by the High Court on the registration of property in unauthorised layouts. The last would almost appear to indicate a frank admission that the political establishment would love the status quo to continue on rampant construction in areas such as wetlands. The Government, on the other hand, is refusing to look at how its consistent fixing of guideline values for sale of properties at unreasonably high levels has brought down the volume of transaction and, thereby, revenue as well.

The State Government has taken comfort in the fact that a significant part of its deficit can be attributed to its taking over the State-run power utility Tangedco’s debts of around Rs 22,815 crore. This was mandatory as part of the Central Government’s Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) in terms of which the State Government had to take over a part of the loans of the distribution company and issue bonds in lieu of it. The point is that while it is convenient to shift the blame to the Centre, there is no denying that Tangedco remains one of the worst-run distribution companies in the country and that is the State Government’s responsibility. By stubbornly refusing to reform the distribution utility, the State is only adding to its woes. It is, in fact, sitting on a 2010 report of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission that recommended splitting Tangedco into a power generation and four regional distribution companies on the lines of the State Transport Corporation. This is already in practice in other States and is a scheme that Tamil Nadu could do well to emulate.


… But it’s a sorry state, seen below, we keep this landmark in

(By a Special Correspondent)

Whether you like it or not, Valluvar Kottam, a monument dedicated to the ancient Tamil poet, saint and philosopher is a landmark in Madras, a reflection of the stone sculptors’ skills. Sadly, more often than that, their striking edifice looks shabby as a result of total lack of maintenance.

IMG_2541Valluvar Kottam as seen by Dr. Vijay Sriram’s camera.

INTACH seeks more information

Building Crafts

The Heritage Craft & Community Division [HCCD] of the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage is compiling a Directory of Building Crafts to serve as a documentation of the crafts that have been traditionally used in India’s architecture,


Lost Landmarks of Chennai

– Sriram V

The six gardens of the Begum

110bAgurchund Mansions in Rushkairam Gardens.

There is an erroneous story floating around that Chepauk is actually Cheh Baugh, or six gardens that once stood were, all belonging to the Nawab of Arcot.


The Madras Helix

by V. Vijaysree

The double helix is, perhaps, one of the most iconic structures from the world of science. The DNA, with its intertwined spiral shape, is the molecule of heredity. Decoding its structure and understanding its function in the cell was a big scientific breakthrough in the 1950s.

GNR with DH (1)GNR, his wife Rajam and Dorothy Hodgkin.