Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXIII No. 6, July 1-15, 2023
Government-owned built heritage in Chennai seems to have never had it so good. All over the city, many Indo-Saracenic structures are getting much needed restoration and if not that, at least a facelift. In the last decade or so, there has certainly been a change in attitude as far as the authorities are concerned over built heritage of the colonial kind. And this is to be welcomed. It is certainly not the happy ending as far as the battle to preserve heritage is concerned but it is undoubtedly progress. The question remains, will this influence private players and more importantly Government undertakings to also preserve the heritage they own? Or can the Government at least work towards making this happen?
All over the city, heritage structures owned by the State are seeing restoration exercises. Work on Chepauk Palace seems to be nearing completion going by the blood red coat of paint it is now doused with. That will hopefully fade with time to a more acceptable shade but what is important is that conservation seems to have been done on scientific lines. VP Hall is under scaffolding and long-promised restoration is underway. In our last issue we reported on how Rajaji Hall is to be restored at a cost of Rs 17 crores. The Government has since followed that up with an announcement that it plans to renovate the TANUVAS building in Vepery. Last heard, even the Mint Building was supposed to be restored.
A crucial factor in all these restorations has been the trained team that the Public Works Department has developed inhouse for such projects.
“I felt rather silly for a second there,” confesses Siddharth, waving towards his expensive new sports car. The bonnet catches the sun rather prettily – sophisticated, shiny and sleek, it can accelerate to high speeds in the blink of an eye. Siddharth was temporarily thrown for a toss earlier in June, when the Greater Chennai Traffic Police (GCTP) announced that city speed limits would be revised to 40kmph in the daytime and 50kmph at night. Newly installed speed radars with ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras at key spots such as Anna Arivalayam junction, Dr Gurusamy Bridge, Pulla Avenue, Ration Shop Junction in Maduravoyal, Parry’s Corner, Injambakkam, and Spencer Plaza would help identify violators.
July 1 will mark the completion of fifty years of the iconic Anna (Gemini) Flyover. Built at a time when the number of vehicles crossing that junction was around 9,000 during peak hours, it continues to cater to a load far higher than that. And yet it keeps working, with minimum maintenance. It certainly deserves to be commemorated and celebrated.
July 1, 2023 marks fifty years of the inauguration of one of the city’s most identifiable landmarks, the Gemini Flyover. It was the first flyover to come up in the city (and the 3rd in the country) and was touted to be the largest of them all at the time of its construction. The English and Tamil versions of the July 1973 editions of the Tamilarasu magazine, the official organ of the Government brought out by the Department of Information and Public Relations carry interesting information about the project.
The need for measures to ease the traffic congestion
The idea of a flyover over Mount Road was first mooted in, believe it or not, 1948! And it was much bigger than what we have now – for the plan was to construct it from Gemini Circle all the way to Island Grounds. When we speak of lost opportunities this would certainly be one. The Corporation of Madras was the sponsor of the scheme and it simultaneously mooted yet another flyover – from where the Police Commissioner’s Office now stands in Vepery, to the Fort Station. This in effect was more or less the elevated road along Poonamallee High Road that is still being talked about. We must be thankful that the Gemini flyover was constructed in 1973 at least.