Fears that the rear portion of P. Orr & Sons on Anna Salai might be the next victim of the Metro Rail work added to the poignant mood on the stretch on Tuesday, when some of the sports and surgical equipment shops were seen shifting the last few items from the premises they had occupied for decades.

Owners of Pikay's Medico Surgical, Lightway Sports Company and Pioneer Sports — the shops that stood together — looked emotional as workers salvaged the iron gates, shutters and other usable material from these structures. The Ambassador Lodge on the first floor looked partially demolished with the AC ducts pulled out and the Burma teak windows and doors removed.

With minor demolition work taking place for the last few days, the management of P. Orr & Sons has been on tenterhooks. “A few clocks at the clock repair section broke because of the vibrations from the adjacent building,” said T.S. Balaji, senior manager (maintenance) of the 1879-built store, looking troubled that no drawing has been given to them on how much of the building will be taken for the project.

To add to their fears were visits by Metro Rail staff to measure the building. “Today, Chennai Metrowater came and said they have to disconnect the supply. Everybody has only been talking with no written instruction for us to start vacating the rear portion of the building,” Mr. Balaji said. The showroom and service centre are spread over 10.5 grounds, which includes the rear section whose entrance is on Atthippattan Street and which houses its watch and clock repair section, tele-tale clock manufacturing department and survey instrumental work. The management has been contacting the INTACH team to see if any help can be obtained. Howeverx a senior official from Chennai Metro Rail clarified that it was not acquiring any heritage building, including the one housing P.Orr & Sons. The demolition of the other shops in the building, the official said, was being carried out by the tenants. “We have a proper demolition plan and it will be executed carefully,” he said. Owners of the shops were disappointed. In other States, one-eighth of the compensation is given to the tenant in such cases, but not in Tamil Nadu. “We looked after the building all these years but it is the owner who gets the market price,” said Vijay Kumar Khattar of Pikay's Medico Surgical and Gurudeep Ahluwalia of Lightway Sports Company.

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