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VOL. XXII NO. 3, MAY 16-31, 2012
Our Readers Write

Another happy experience

In continuation of the experience of your reader at the RTO's office, Anna Nagar, I too had a good experience recently. I got the forms for the renewal of my driving licence, filled in all the details and got the Medical Fitness Certificate for Rs.60 from the ever available doctor behind the office. The lady scrutiniser came to her seat exactly at 10 am, checked the forms calling the names of persons seated in the queue, and sent the forms inside for the officer to check. They were returned after about 10-15 minutes and I paid the prescribed fee of Rs. 350, got the receipt, pasted half of it on the application form and gave it inside the Elcot room, where the photo of the applicant was taken.

The officer who was seated there said it would take an hour to complete the process and I could go out to attend to any other work and come after an hour. I told him it would be cumbersome to take another round of extra 5 km to come again because of the one-ways recently introduced in Anna Nagar. He acknowledged the hardship in coming again and asked me to be seated on the bench and informed that he would call me as soon as it was ready. Meanwhile, I gave him the copy of Madras Musings wherein the letter of appreciation was published and he was happy to see it and said that they were doing the service to the common public with minimum hardship to them.

A short while later, he himself came to me, asked me to check if the entries on the card were correct, then gave it inside for lamination and I got the renewed licence on hand within an hour in total.

The only hurdle was the path leading to the doctor's 2' x 3' room behind the RTO's office. It was amidst horrible stench with even some dead rats and a lot of plastic covers strewn around. The visitors had to carefully walk over these plastic heaps. The foul stench flowed into the Elcot room and also the officer's room. I asked him how he was sitting amidst the bad stench all day, he said they were taking steps to ensure such wastes are not dumped in future.

V. Chinnaswamy
1, Jai Nagar 16th Sreet, Arumbakkam
Chennai 600106

The Birmingham way

On a recent visit to Madras I had an opportunity to understand the disappointment noted by S. Viswanathan in his article (MM, April 1st) about the poor state of your rivers and canals.

He is totally correct to illustrate the lost opportunity in not making good use of these facilities. In the case of my home city, Birmingham, the many miles of canals dug over two hundred years ago to provide freight transport capable of industrial revolution fell into total disrepair after World War II. By 1950 they had become just stagnant ditches and were almost impossible to navigate in some cases.

They were ignored by the government departments responsible for them and by the city authorities. Fortunately, a group of boating enthusiasts took it upon themselves to organise working parties and to publicise their work. Bit by bit, the responsible landowners began to realise they were sitting close to a valuable resource and the canals have become features of significance in their own right. The work accelerated when it was realised that buildings with a waterfront or a view of the canals became much more valuable and could generate higher rents.

Some of the incomes from these offices, restaurants and buildings are used to keep the waterways in good condition and free from debris and, so, the towpaths are popular for sightseers and cyclists.

Peter Green
62, Buchanan Road
Walsall, WS4 2EN, UK

Mullaperiar dam

The article by A. Mohanakrishnan, Water Resources Adviser to the Tamil Nadu Government (MM, March 16th) is quite comprehensive. Possible answers were published in Madras Musings of January 16-31, 2007. In answer to my suggestions, C. S. Kuppuraj, Chartered Civil Engineer and Consultant, former Chief Engineer, PWD, wrote to me as follows:

"I was delighted to see your valuable suggestion in Madras Musings (January 16-31, 2007) regarding Mullaperiar tangle. This is precisely what I suggested as a second plan of compromise in my article dated 21.12.2006.

"A new tunnel with sill at +80 feet and carrying capacity of 3000 cusecs could be constructed (the present tunnel with sill at +104feet leaves 104 feet of water as dead storage). A new powerhouse with installed capacity of 300 MW can be built (the present powerhouse has 140 MW only).

"If this is done we can assure the Kerala Government that water level in the dam will never exceed +136 feet, which is what they want."

The question arises why not harness more hydroelectric power (300 MW) and secure more water for our irrigation needs and at the same time satisfy all!

The catchment area in Tamil Nadu is 11,400 hectare and in Kerala it is 53,400 hectare, adding to 64,800 hectare. With rainfall in that region being, say, 200 to 300 cm, the total volume of water comes to more than 1,29,600 to 1, 94,400 hectare metres, and a great deal drains into the 3200 hectare leased land where the Mullaperiar dam is. While only 140 MW of power is generated with the available water at Lower Camp, a lot of surplus water flows over the spillway into the Periar River. Tamil Nadu has so far successfully drawn 22 tmcft of water (1998) which is 3.59 times the storage of usable water. However, the present proposal would divert an additional 3000 cusecs to generate power of 300 MW and let the additional water go for irrigation in Tamil Nadu, instead of letting it go to the Arabian Sea as at present.

The existing water now irrigates 2.17 lakh acres in the districts of Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram. Of this area, it benefits 60,000 acres with two crops per year. The surplus water that may spill into Tamil Nadu at 3,000 cusecs after generating 300 MW of power could easily support three crops per year in these districts and, maybe, some more dry lands could be converted to wetland. After travelling 247 kilometres, the water reaches the Palk Bay, serving all along the route some 66,000 small farmers.

K.V.S. Krishna

Disappointed reader

I have been an ardent reader of your fortnightly journal, but do not really know whether there has been any effect at all of the critical articles brought out by you to improve Madras. You need to find a different way to communicate with those concerned with these issues.

In your April 16th issue, both issues raised in the articles published on its first page cannot be solved merely by publishing the articles in your journal.

In the case of the Mylapore Festival, it would be more appropriate for you to meet the concerned authorities in the Kapaleeswarar Temple and also meet the top brass in the Police Department and bring home to them the manner in which the conducting of the festival could be improved.

As for your article on a master plan for George Town, it will not have any effect at all. I have my office located in the Catholic Centre on Armenian Street. Armenian Street, which is about 80 ft wide, has hardly any place even to walk in during any part of a week-day, and especially on every Tuesday and Friday, when the Church feeds the lepers. About 80 per cent of the street is always occupied by cart vendors on the one side, and parked four-wheelers and two-wheelers on the other side. These four-wheelers and two-wheelers all belong to one particular firm. The security guards of this company behave as though the street itself has been bought over by the company!

R. Balasubramanian
108, Armenian Street
Chennai 600 001

About NSJ

N.S. Jagannathan (MM, April 16th) – NSJ, as he was affectionately called – spent the best part of his eventful journalism career in New Delhi and his retirement years in Bengaluru. My father, A.K. Sethuraman, was his friend and colleague and, thus, I had the privilege of interacting with NSJ right from my school days.

Many people are not aware of his Chennai connection. He is from a leading Chennai-based family. His ancestral house in Adyar was a sprawling heritage structure where he celebrated his sixtieth birthday in 1983. Whether he was in Delhi or Bengaluru, he would invariably travel to Chennai for his holidays to spend time with his extended family there. I. Mahadevan, former editor of the Tamil daily Dinamani, was one of his best professional friends in Chennai.

NSJ's nephew, Dr. Vyas, is a multifaceted personality – a medical practitioner, social worker, voracious reader, thinker and singer. I guess that the email to which NSJ refers in his article was sent to him by none other than Dr. Vyas. Many of NSJ's relatives, including Dr. Vyas, lived in or around Adyar for many years. NSJ's wife Chudamani's elder sister Rukmini Sampath was one of the founder-members of a school that she named Bala Brindivan, which was inaugurated by Rajaji around 1950. This school has now evolved into the Bala Vidya Mandir in Gandhinagar, Adyar.

Dr. S. Suresh
46, IV Street, Padmanabha Nagar,
Adyar, Chennai 600 020

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In this issue

Heritage legislation at last
What should be done to space beneath flyovers?
Endangered historic site
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright (in Madras)
Birdwatching Notes
A post-box out of the past
The historical legacy of an engineering marvel
English Theatre returns
DRAVID – He fought the good battle every time

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan


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