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Vol. XXXI No. 24, April 1-15, 2022

Our Readers Write

Miracles do happen

I wish to share the experience of one of our residents who applied for a name tranfer certificate for a property within the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC).

On January 9, 2022, the resident made an online application for a name transfer certificate by uploading the requisite documents. Having not received any information even after a lapse of almost two months, the resident visited the Zonal Office at Kodambakkam on March 24. When he enquired as to the fate of the application, a junior official manning the Revenue Department stated that the applicant had to submit the documents physically as no online requests were entertained at the office. Taken aback, the resident tried to meet the Zonal Officer. Since the ZO was held up in a meeting, the resident spoke to the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue & Finance) at Ripon Building.

The DC was quite kind enough to pick up the call on his mobile. He was very polite and patiently heard the whole story. He advised the resident to forward the details on WhatsApp. The resident immediately complied.

The resident then returned home. He was in for a big surprise as two officials of the GCC came calling on the resident at around 7.00 pm on the same day, with a request to provide them with the necessary documentation to execute the change. The resident thought that it could have been the result of talking with the DC. The resident immediately handed over copies of the documents. All this had taken place on March 24. 

Yet another surprise was in store for the resident on the morning of March 25. A GCC official greeted the resident with the original name change certificate! The resident was floating on cloud nine.
How could officials accomplish a job which was pending for over two months within hours? Does not this bear testimony to the fact that if there is a will, most issues can be resolved in hours?

The resident profusely thanked the DC for his ‘intervention’. 

V.S. Jayaraman
31 Motilal Street, Chennai 600 017

Singara Chennai

Singara Chennai (MM, March 16, 2022) can only remain a pipe dream. It’s success lies in the hands of the people. Unfortunately, our people lack the drive to keep the city clean. For instance, betel chewing as a habit is a big reason our roads and public places are dirty. No amount of public education will change our unhygienic habits. Public toilets are a standing example how even well-intentioned projects fail to change practices.

Dr. S.S. Rajagopalan
30, Kamarajar Street
Chennai 600 093

Architects restore 180-year-old church in San Thome

The CSI St. Thomas English Church in San Thome which is about 180 years old was recently restored. The community here got together for a Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, February 27 to mark this occasion.
Once known as ‘St. Thomas by the Sea’, this small, white church on the shore built in 1842, was a prominent Anglican church at that time in Madras. It is now a part of the Church of South India.
For the special Sunday service, the church looked resplendent – the interior was decorated with red and white flower arrangements and the walls, freshly-painted a pristine white.

In his sermon, the Presbyter Rev. J Paul Sudhakar said, “We are a privileged community to be present here at this historic moment. The Lord has enabled us to have this Church renovated.”

After Eucharist, Dr. Rabinder Boaz, the secretary of the pastorate committee, took the congregation through a pictorial journey of the restoration of the 180-year-old church building. “We must be thankful to God that last year, there was a tremendous deluge and that monsoon actually opened our eyes to the need for this restoration. Layer by layer, there was much damage and destruction. The roof, the ceiling, the beams, walls and doors, many areas were crying out for attention” he said.

While most of the doors and woodwork have been refurbished and re-used, the church now has a brand-new roof with interlocking tiles imported from Spain, giving it an appearance of just as it would have looked a century ago.

The treasurer of the pastorate committee Gemina Martin said, “It is a very challenging project. Sunil Vamadevan and Sharada Vamadevan, the architects helped us a lot. They did not take any remuneration from us for our service… they spent long hours in this church, looking at nooks and crannies and advised us what to do, and how to restore it.”

Ezhilarasan was the engineer in charge of this project.


Architects Sunil and Sharadha Vamadevan, who are based in Thiruvanmiyur had a lot on their hands when they undertook this project, a first of its kind for the duo. They had to undo the amateurish repairs of the roof where the contractor had used metal sheets. The architects ordered Spain-made terracotta tiles (similar to Mangalore tiles) and used them. They also retained the best of the woodwork there. They also repaired and restored the Madras terrace areas of the roof which showed deep wear and tear.
They removed a modern-day, false roof that had been created above the altar space which obliterated the original grand space and design here which was restored.

They created new, carefully-designed louvres to be set above the many doors of the church. This now protects the woodwork from the rains/harsh sun but also aligns with the aesthetics of the church design.

They declined the suggestion of air-conditioning the space and cleared the original air vents and other ventilation areas. – (Courtesy: Mylapore Times.)

Guindy Industrial Estate

At the time of Independence, Guindy was a part of the Alandur village and was just an expanse of agricultural fields and groves. It was at the southern periphery of the city. The Madras Beach-­Tambaram suburban rail line passed through Guindy as also the Southern Trunk road. With its rail and road connectivity, Guindy was selected as a model industrial estate along with Okhla in Delhi.

Through the 1950s and 1960s a few brilliant civil servants encouraged by R. Venkataraman as Minister of Industry & Labour, brought about rapid evolution of the Guindy Industrial Estate. The government extended a wide range of facilities like cheap rental for well-constructed industrial sheds (17p/sq.ft.), decent infrastructure like roads, water supply and sanitation. Common facilities were offered through the Department of Industries & Commerce, later Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation (TANS) for casting, forging, milling pressure die-casting, wire drawing and wood working.

Guindy attracted and groomed entrepreneurs. The range of products made were indeed vast stationary batteries, machine tools, high voltage electrical insulators and line materials, radios, drums and other packing materials, pencils, scientific instruments, vacuum flasks a wide range of mechanical and electrical engineering products, auto components, later plastic products…

From the compact initial area, Guindy expanded west and north right up to the Adyar river. Guindy was also famous for its engineering college which had its origin two centuries earlier, the SIR research complex – Central Leather Research Institute, the AC College of Technology, the IIT-Madras and the venerated King Institute famous for its vaccines set up in 1899.

In recent years the Tamil Nadu MGR Medical University further enhanced the academic credentials of Guindy.

With growth in population, a metro keeps walking outwards. Along with it is the concomitant spiralling of land prices. The thickening of population makes continuance of industrial activity in the city untenable. Thus started the decline of the industrial units in Guindy. But the rich infrastructure, especially road and rail connectivity and proximity to the air-port, contributed to a spectacular transformation of Guindy as a commercial centre.

However, the administrative machinery has not been able to cope with the speed of the change. In the initial decades, the industry department and the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) were able to manage the industrial estate with efficiency. SIDCO took care of the maintenance of roads, provision of electricity, water supply, sanitation, lighting.

Three decades ago SIDCO handed over the civic administration to the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC). but not the responsibility for provision of civic amenities. Today the GCC benefits from the sizeable revenue from property taxes; but doesn’t have the responsibility for the upkeep of roads, lighting, conservancy. The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (Metrowater) provides water supply and drainage services at cost.

SIDCO doesn’t have a steady source of revenue and thus is unable to provide any civic service. (Courtesy: Industrial Economist.)

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