Old, damaged transformer on Armenian Street replaced. Road users heave a sigh of relief, writes D. Madhavan

Road users no longer need fear electrocution from the fragile transformer in front of the 175-year-old St. Mary’s Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School on Armenian Street in Broadway with Tangedco officials replacing it with a new 240 KV transformer.

A series of communications between school authorities and Tangedco about the imminent danger from the damaged transformer have borne fruit. “Based on a news report in Downtown, we were able to convince the Tangedco authorities to replace the old transformer,” said Fr. Gregory Devarajan, principal of the school.

With the summer at its peak, the possibility of a spark emanating from the transformer was high. Further, it is a busy stretch used by school children, advocates, petitioners, traders and road users. Any accident due to the transformer, Tangedco officials said, could have sparked tension in the neighbourhood. However, sourcing a new transformer was the main challenge that led to delay in immediate installation. “Sourcing of the new transformer was the main reason for the delay,” said a Tangedco official.

For years, the high voltage old transformer was near the main entrance of the school. To ensure safe entry and exit of students, school authorities closed the main gate and students used to pass through the Church gate to go to their classrooms. Subsequently, the authorities closed the first and second floors of the school facing the Armenian Street with iron grills to prevent any accident. The two floors comprise ten classrooms, including three science labs. Students of standard five, six and seven attend classes in these rooms.

Established in 1839 by the fathers of the Society of St. Joseph’s Mill Hill, London, the school has around 1,700 students now and is celebrating its 175th year with various events including mini marathon and inter-school sports and games. But, the safety of children and parents and teachers, who come for such events, were at stake due to the transformer.

Not only students, but the transformer poses a risk to hundreds of pedestrians and motorists who use the street every day.

Advocates of the Madras High Court, law students, petitioners and government officials throng the street which is dotted with many law consultation firms and advocates’ offices.

Further, small businessmen and traders too come to shops here. Unmindful of the danger posed by the transformer, a group of hawkers have been selling fancy items on the pavement beneath it.

Months ago, the Esplanade police told their higher officials at the city commissioner’s office and Tangeco that the transformer posed a real threat. Despite reports from the police and petitions from the school and the public, Tangeco remained silent until now.

More In: Downtown | Features