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VOL. XXII NO. 7, July 16-31, 2012
Our Readers Write

Encroachment Nagar

The Chennai Corporation recently convened a meeting to elicit the opinion of the stakeholders in T'Nagar on its plans to re-develop the shopping hub. The discussion on the proposal was called at very short notice on a working day and the programme itself started much after the scheduled time and ended too soon. This was also the last of the three-stage discussions held with the residents of the area.

The programme which was supposed to commence at 10.30 a.m. started an hour behind schedule and, consequently, due to non-availability of time, the consultants, M/s. Jones Lang Lasalle, rushed through the entire presentation and those present could not get any idea as to what the proposal was all about.

Based on newspaper reports and whatever we could make out from the presentation given by the consultants roped in by the civic body, we understand that, amongst other things, the proposal provides for the construction of a sky-walk connecting Mambalam Railway Station and Usman Road via Madley Road, a hawker's zone, separate paths for pedestrians, multi-level car parking lots and an integrated parking system. Plans to extend the present flyover on Usman Road upto Anna Salai at the Nandanam Junction are also in the scheme of things.

A close reading of the scheme, as disseminated by various publications, indicates that the proposal to redevelop T'Nagar recognises the needs and wants of the traders, hawkers, shoppers and even pedestrians to a great extent. It, however, does not even acknowledge the very existence of the residents, who form the major part of the population in the area. If the plans materialise, the residents on streets abutting Usman Road – Burkit Road, Mahalakshmi Street, Motilal Street, Sarojini Street, Ramaswamy Street, Venkatesan Street, Pinjalasubramaniam Street, Mangesh Street, Rangan Street, Rangan Lane, Ramanathan Street, Rameswaram Road, Natesan Street, Madley Road – will be hard hit.

According to the proposal, the space beneath the flyover will be earmarked for accommodating hawkers. If that were so, the residents will not be able to move in and out of their street and they will remain in a state of siege. In the event of emergency, there would be no way for a fire engine or an ambulance to reach the affected area. Thus, the proposal aims at declaring T'Nagar a purely commercial zone, driving the residents out of this hub.

T'Nagar can be aptly described as the mother of all encroachments. Not a single square metre has been left untouched. Pollution from smoke and noise is a constant threat to the residents. Commercial buildings on Ranganathan Street, Usman Road and other places in T'Nagar have come up in blatant violation of the building development norms and do not have adequate fire safety mechanisms in place. With the large number of people passing through this area, any fire accident would spell a major disaster. All this has been ignored by the Corporation and other law enforcing authorities who have consistently been closing their eyes to such blatant violation of the law of the land.

The biggest impediment here is the flyover on Usman Road which deters residents from crossing from one street to another and effectively blocks the free movement of ambulances and fire engines. Traffic is in a disarray.

Further, indiscriminate dumping of garbage chokes the sewage system and pollutes the water.

In fact, T'Nagar should be renamed Encroachment Nagar. It is a place where disaster is waiting to happen.

T'Nagar Residents' Welfare Association
30, Rangan Street, T'Nagar, Chennai 600 017
(These are excerpts from an appeal to the Chief Minister.)

Unhygienic beach

Innumerable letters and representations to authorities from citizens have been published in the media regarding the unhygienic conditions in Besant Nagar beach for the last several years. But, the conditions are becoming only worse day by day.

Some time back, Elliot's Beach beautification scheme was announced by the Chennai Corporation with budget of several lakh rupees. Now, one does not know what has happened to this scheme and how much of money has been really spent. If any money has been spent, it has really been wasted, as evident from the present conditions of the beach.

There are several issues such as large number of stray dogs sharing the space with the visitors. Empty liquor bottles and throw-away materials and even excreta of dogs and humans can be found scattered all around the sand. Practically, there is no cleaning process on the beach on daily basis and the visitors are also utterly careless and irresponsible in creating unhygienic condi-tions.

The number of hawkers seems to be increasing every day and the fish market in one end of the beach adds to nauseating smell. Frequently, all sorts of meetings and music programmes, sports events and film shootings are taking place on the beach sands, which considerably affect the serene atmosphere and make the beach a place of distaste for the visitors.

With some efforts, commitment and planning, Chennai Corporation and the Government can certainly make Elliot's beach a place of joy for everyone. But, in spite of many appeals in the past from citizens, this has not happened.

I only tend to think that Elliot's beach will always remain a place of eyesore, far from a place of beauty, due to inefficient and in different administration.

N.S. Venkataraman
M 60/1, 4th Cross Street
Besant Nagar, Chennai 600 090

Subordinate Saars

In 'Crisis of domestics' (MM, May 16th) I find that MMM seems to have a problem about what to call hired domestic workers. Very true. Gone are the days of subservience, scraping and bowing. Everyone now demands respect. The Bank Head Clerk is now a 'Special Assistant', the scavenger is a 'Conservancy Worker' and the good old prostitute is a 'Commercial Sex Worker'.

Regarding MMM's ruffling the cook's ego, I suggest that he refer to the man in future as 'Mahraj' (not Maharaj) which means 'cook' in Hindi, a honorific of the more common 'Rasoiya'. That will solve the problem. Times are changing. The day is not far off when beggars might be referred to as 'alms collectors'!

EDITOR'S NOTE: I recently discovered that (railway) engine drivers are called 'train pilots'.

* * *

A welcome development in George Town (GT) of late is that, in spite of the congestion and filth, the real estate market there has skyrocketed to Rs. 15,000 per sq. foot! All these years GT was a lame duck; now suddenly Dame Luck is miling on it.

In spite of all the building activity and business start-ups, the aam aadmi of GT remains a disappointed lot, lacking in basic civic discipline. More than a master plan, what GT needs is a tough ring master because it is one big circus.

C.G. Prasad
9, C.S. Mudali Street
Kondithope, Chennai 600 079

Initials expanded

The biographical sketch of F.G. Natesa Iyer made good reading. But I wonder what his initial F stands for. Also, did he have only one daughter?

R.K. Natarajan

EDITOR'S NOTE: We understand that he was Francis George Natesa Iyer. He became a Christian in his youth but returned to the Hindu fold in his later years.

Regarding his daughter, perhaps the author or a reader will respond.

Street names

To cite a parallel to 'Tailor's Road' versus 'Taylor's Road', Nori Veerasamy Street abetting Nungambakkam police station is mentioned as Nur Veerasamy Street. Chennai Municipal Corporation put up new sign boards more than a year back stating Nungambakkam High Road where as its official name now is Uthamar Gandhi Salai as used by Government offices in particular. However, M.G. Road (Mahatma Gandhi Road) and N.H. Road (Nungambakkam High Road) are used by banks and other establishments.

Similarly, there are a lot of variants in the names of roads and streets. The geographical name is no doubt helpful to guide the public. A survey will throw more light and may help avoid anomalies and consequence confusion.

Capt. Dr. M. Singaraja
Chairman, Senior Citizens Bureau
90 (93), Rama (Naicken) Street
Chennai 600 034

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In this issue

First in bus accidents – a dubious status for Chennai
Whither VP Hall's restoration?
Nostalgia – Memories of Madras
Looking back – Goldingham and the Madras Observatory
Cricket in India stands for hope & opportunity
A music academy for the future
Ismena Warren – documenting Madras in water-colours and sketches
Better use of city spaces
Garden gloom

Our Regulars

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


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