Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXV No. 19, January 16-31, 2016
Whenever they come to power they promise to make Chennai a world-class city. Some coined catchy phrases for it – Singara Chennai was one. Singapore is their avowed model for what Chennai ought to be like. When it comes to the Cooum, they quote the Thames to us and, likewise, they claim that the metro rail, when operational, will teach the London underground a lesson or two. Ask them about flooding and they will tell us about how we will soon beat Holland in best practices. When it comes to action, however, all this is forgotten. With the city and State in election mode, we have witnessed some of the worst behaviour possible in the last two weeks and it is only going to get worse.
One of the two political majors had a summit conference somewhere outside the city. The entire route was covered with bunting, banners, cut outs and political graffiti. Party workers thought nothing about erecting welcome arches right in the middle of roads thereby constricting what little space there was for vehicles. Even the flyovers were not spared. Some that have sharp bends and therefore have glow signs to indicate where the turnings were, had these covered with posters thereby increasing the risk of accidents. Traffic lights were hidden, as were road signs, thereby creating chaos. Pavements were dug up to erect banners and cut outs. Private walls were defaced and some commercial establishments even had their parking spaces intruded upon for hoardings to be put up. It must be acknowledged that all of these (minus the posters and graffiti that have stayed on), were removed immediately after the event, probably following the sharp backlash on social media. But while they stood, they caused enough trouble and gave us an idea as to how third world or worse we can be. It was then the turn of the other political major which, not wanting to be left out, decided that it would hold a political rally, in the middle of a working day and on one of the busiest thoroughfares.
Barely fifteen days after the battering that our city received by way of the rains, our Corporation swung into action. And by that we do not mean it was done with new dynamism. It just went back to all its old ways, which is indeed a pity, given that at least part of the problem was caused by the shoddy manner in which it executed its civic projects.
Take the example of road works that are now in progress. Not a thought is being given to correcting the errors of the past. Every pot hole is filled in with loose gravel and a coat of tar is being put on it. Within a couple of weeks, and with vehicles repeatedly going over these, all the filling would have worn away.
Crossing the Arsenal, you come to the southwest corner of Fort St. George. As you reach this space, you see a long road cutting across the Fort from the south to the north. This runs parallel to Charles Street, continues along the western face of Parade Square and the wall of the Kings Barracks before culminating at the northern wall of the Fort. Intriguingly, this thoroughfare does not have a signboard announcing its name any longer, though it is historically significant. The old books refer to it as Palace Street.
Bringing an old world and a modern city together
Hriday (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana), devised by the Ministry of Urban Development, recaptures the idea of heritage cities. The focus of Hriday is currently on 12 cities chosen by the Government across the country – Ajmer, Amravathi, Amritsar, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni and Warangal.
(Continued from last fortnight)
Chandra Sri Ram, a grand-niece of S.R. Ranganathan, the legendary librarian, recalls him after a visit to Sirkazhi, where he was born and did his early education.
The departure itself, to leave for London in September 1924, was not an easy one. He consulted his mother, paternal grandmother and his former headmaster from his school in Sirkazhi, who was then the Headmaster of the Hindu High School in Triplicane.