Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVII No. 5, June 16-30, 2017
It was only a couple of issues ago that we had written about the rot in Chennai’s real estate. One of the instances quoted was a fire in a wholly unauthorised structure that continued to remain in occupation despite the authorities sealing it. That incident claimed four lives. The latest episode, though fortunately not causing any deaths, was on a far bigger scale. We allude to the fire in a multistoried garment showroom in T’Nagar.
This is an area that has become a showpiece for construction violations and the above-mentioned structure was no exception. Permission had been granted for just four floors, but the management had merrily added another four. An administration that either did not care, or was in cahoots with the violators, a judiciary that took its own time to come to any conclusive judgement, an owner who was only interested in making money even if it meant bending all the rules, and a vast horde of shoppers who kept the place going, not in the least bothered that the place had come up in contravention of all ethics – all of them ensured that no action was ever taken. In this lot, it is perhaps the shopper who is to be forgiven, for if he/she is to take the stance of shopping only in buildings that are put up in strict conformance of the law, then shopping as an activity may have to be abandoned altogether in our city.
One late morning, a year ago, my friend Santharaman rang up to say he had sighted a Brahminy kite – Haliastur indus – in the skies of Anna Salai. But I did not take it seriously because it had been years since a Brahminy kite was sighted in Chennai. I assumed that he must have mistaken a Black kite for a Brahminy kite. Nevertheless, he was confident. I was even more surprised when he informed me that the kite carried nesting material as well. I had no grounds to believe him. A couple of months ago he called again to say he had sighted the bird in the same area with some nesting material. This time I took him seriously and agreed to take a look.
Continuing from last fort-night, when the focus was on our low sanitary rating, I today look at a major contributing factor: Garbage, which daily overflows on to our streets.
It cannot be anyone’s case that the ubiquitous piles of garbage are entirely the responsibility of the municipal conservancy agencies. Be it garbage or sewage, at one end is the public agency that has responsibility to manage and deal with them; but it is at the source that much could be achieved to reduce the volume of waste generation and to facilitate easier handling of the load transferred to the public system.
It is today known as the Arignar Anna Poonga but for long it was Robinson Park. The man after whom it was named was Sir William Rose Robinson, KCSI, of the Madras Civil Service. At the time the Indian Charivari carried his caricature and profile, he was the acting Governor of Madras, following the sudden death of the incumbent Governor, Lord Hobart (MM, June 1, 2017).
It’s a blazing summer with a drought compounding it. Most of Chennai’s roads are devoid of any kind of tree cover and with the heat radiating from the sky, the buildings, the roads and the vehicles make for a local version of hell. At a time like this, it is with a pang that I read a report of the Municipal Corporation of Madras, dating to 1868. It has, among other things, a page on how the civic body set about creating tree cover along certain roads in the city, thereby qualifying them as avenues.
The part of Mount Road between Government House (now Periyar) Bridge and Wallajah (presently Quaid-e-Milleth) Bridge was named Napier Avenue and was lined with Peepul Trees.