Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXII No. 3, May 16-31, 2022
The State Government is back to what it does best – renaming roads in the city. There is of course the other thing they do equally well – unnecessary ‘beautification’ of neighbourhoods but we will not go into that. At least not just now. Since these are times when being critical of anybody in power usually means inviting the accusation that we are in the pay of the Opposition, let us assure everyone that we were equally critical when the previous regime did the same. Overall, the road-renaming exercise is one of the most wasteful activities possible, but State Governments do not seem to think so.
It was only last week that the Chief Minister announced with much fanfare that the East Coast Road, which had been getting along very well with that name for quite some time now, will henceforth be known as Muthamizh Arignar Kalaignar Karunanidhi Road. As to what connection the late Kalaignar and former Chief Minister had with that thoroughfare is not known but then there it is. The road will henceforth be officially known by its new name, just as Nungambakkam High Road is in reality Utthamar Gandhi Salai and Old Mahabalipuram Road is Rajiv Gandhi Expressway. No connection of any kind – just a renaming. There was a time when roads were renamed after leaders or prominent citizens who lived on them, as for instance Radhakrishnan Salai and Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy Road, but now such connections are not of any importance. Any road can be picked up at random and renamed at will, just as the previous regime suddenly changed Halls Road to Tamizh Salai.
It is not as though the late Kalaignar does not already have places named after him. KK Nagar is a vast residential area that takes his name and it has been around for several decades. For that matter, we find the same leaders being commemorated in various roads and streets
On a Wednesday in the last week of April, residents in and around the Perungudi dump noticed a haze of smoke enveloping their localities. It became harder to breathe and vehicles plying the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam 200 feet radial road found themselves driving in conditions of poor visibility. It was reportedly around 12.30 pm that day when local officials noticed that a fire had broken out in the landfill at Perungudi; they put out a call for help at around 2 pm, unable to contain the flames. The fire spread across a whopping 15 acres. It would take civic personnel across the Fire and Rescue, Corporation
It is certainly easy to construct a building. It is easier still to neglect it for years and then watch it go up in flames within a few hours. Restoration, however, is a painstaking effort, lasting many years. At the Chepauk Palace, work is proceeding slowly but surely. Both the wings, the Khalas and Humayun Mahals are currently behind scaffolding and protective netting. What little can be seen displays commendable restoration. But it is a long way ahead before the place is thrown open once again. We need to be thankful however that the building has not gone the way of other fire-ravaged heritage structures of the city.
Luz Church Road is today just another road of the city. It has a whole lot of humdrum buildings, plenty of traffic and accompanying congestion. This can be considered its third phase of existence. The earlier phase was around seventy years ago, when it was a quiet thoroughfare, with a series of bungalows on both sides, residences of several legal luminaries. In its earliest phase however, which was at around the turn of the 20th century, it was positively lonely – a few isolated garden houses set in unimaginably huge compounds with plenty of trees.
I met Sankar in 1985 to do a feature on Chemplast. He was not reluctant to talk but was surprised that anyone would want to do a story on the Chemplast Group. Halfway through our conversation, he said with an air of surprise, “We do have a story to tell.”
He had just put his head down and was working hard to take his Group places. He had never thought about projecting himself or the Group in the media. The Group did not even have a name. It was called Sanmar few years down the line.
Sankar was the Managing Director of Chemplast which had been set up