Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVII No. 1, April 16-30, 2017
Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), which had thus far restricted its depredations to heritage structures, extended its scope recently to include a part of Mount Road. Even as a bus with 35 passengers in it and a car were driving side by side, the road beneath them caved in. It was a good thing that the subsidence happened on a Sunday afternoon when traffic was light. More importantly, the passengers in the bus and the car driver had time to clamber out to safety. But the episode has once again brought to light the question that refuses to go away – how much does CMRL care about safety when it goes about its work?
As in all the cases of cracks in heritage structures, the sinking of Mount Road too was dismissed as a minor matter by those who are laying our underground transport facility. All the safety precautions are in place, they say, and the problem has occurred owing to a sudden change in soil characteristics, which can escape attention despite the best possible assessment. At least that is the official view. However, it is quite reliably learnt that initial studies had predicted that many areas of our city would be prone to subsidence and this included locations in the proximity of some of our heritage structures. Work went ahead nevertheless, chiefly because it was felt that such occurrences (including the possibility of a collapse) are small sacrifices to be made in the larger interest of affordable public transportation. Affordable, did someone say? (see Fair fares? Not for filling trains.)
Technically speaking, this vast patch of land on The Island now more or less under the great bridge to Central Station that replaced the Stanley Viaduct, belongs to the Church of St. Mary’s in the Fort. In reality it appears to belong to no one, such being its state of neglect.
The likely fare structure for the 45 km Phase I of the metro project has been indicated. The base fare is said to be Rs. 10-70 for the 45 km stretch compared to Rs. 10-30 for 213 km in Delhi. Size of investment is quoted as justification for the proposed high fares.
Our two pictures focus on two historical structures and reflect how we treat such relics of history.
Although his stay in Australia was a brief two years, Dr. Mani learnt a good deal in his field of specialisation while thoroughly enjoyed working in Sydney Hospital.