“We are willing to part with space for the work but not at the cost of the heritage structure”
It was another day of heightened activity in and around P. Orr & Sons showroom on Anna Salai. With the debris overflowing onto the road following the collapse of Ambassador Lodge on Thursday, the stretch was barricade by Chennai Metro Rail Limited. Entry and exit to Attippattan Street was closed.
The narrow lanes in nearby Ritchie Street were clogged with two-wheelers as most riders were unaware that Attippattan Street was closed. Regular commuters found a gap in the skyline and the ravaged remains of the Ambassador that looked like the victim of a natural calamity. Even the sugarcane vendor, who for years had made the footpath outside the sports and surgical shops his own, was not to be seen.
Around 6 p.m., behind the P. Orr & Sons showroom, an argument was bellowing between CMRL workers and the management. Only after the High Court restrained Metro Rail from carrying out demolishing, modifying or altering any part of the heritage structure did the workers show signs of leaving the building. By 7 p.m. the Court order was pasted at all sides of the historic watch store. Arrangements are now being made to shift its watch and clock repair section and a few other departments — that functioned behind the rear gate of the showroom — to the exhibition hall building of P. Orr & Sons — a few meters away.
The number of footfalls at the showroom was also less. “We are ready to part with a portion of space, but that should be without disturbing the heritage structure,” said G.Nithyanand, Chief Executive, P. Orr & Sons. Of the 10.5 grounds belonging to the company, Metro Rail has marked six grounds to be knocked down, which the management is against because it includes the place where P. Orr, the founder, had his workshop.