The incomplete structure of the New Secretariat complex on the Omandurar Government Estate here and ongoing civil works pose safety and security concerns. To remedy the problem and in larger public interest, it is necessary to shift the departments forthwith from the new building to Fort St.George, the Tamil Nadu government has submitted before the Madras High Court.
In a counter affidavit to a writ petition by R. Veeramani of M.K.B. Nagar here questioning the present government's decision, the Deputy Secretary, Public Works Department, C. Subramanian, said the policy decision of the government adopted by the State Cabinet on August 19 last year to utilise the new structure for a multi-super speciality hospital and a government medical college was rational, legal and not arbitrary.
The counter said even though a ‘no objection' certificate had been obtained from the Fire and Rescue Services Department for the new building, during the fire audit, the department had observed that in the ground floor VVIP rooms, there were no smoke detectors. There was also no refuge area and the building lacked fire lifts. The overhead tank had a capacity of only 20,000 litres instead of the required 60,000 litres. The security master control had not yet been completed. The PWD had not yet filed a completion certificate with the Chennai Corporation. The government was taking steps to remedy these defects.
Hence, it had been proposed to modernise the existing Secretariat with all required facilities.
It was a policy decision of the government to shift the Secretariat to Fort St.George. This could not be agitated in a court. The government's decision was fully in public interest. The decision to shift certain Secretariat departments to an incomplete building was hurriedly taken with wasteful expenditure by the previous government. Though a huge sum had been spent for constructing the new building, it was opined that it was not suited for running government offices. It was best suited for some public utilisation such as a hospital. The hospital would be put in use only after getting approval and clearance.