Anna Salai, or Mount Road, will soon lose a few of its landmark buildings to the Metro Rail project. As part of the work to build an underground station on the stretch, some of the buildings adjoining the iconic P. Orr & Sons will soon be demolished, sources in Chennai Metro Rail Limited confirmed. These buildings house surgical shops, sports goods shops and a lodge.
On Sunday, a majority of the shops on Atthippattan Street — which connects Anna Salai with Ritchie Street — wore a deserted look but the gloom was palpable. A deaf and mute sugarcane-juice vendor, talking in sign language, expressed that he will have to move out soon. Pioneer Sports Company, which opened in 1932 and is one of the oldest sports shops in the city, has put up a notice to inform customers about its new location next to Shanti Theatre.
The caretaker of the 19-room Ambassador Lodge, also among the earliest lodges on this stretch, is not planning to take advance from guests after this month as he does not know when they will be asked to vacate. Pikays Medico Surgicals, meanwhile, has shifted 50 per cent of its goods to its new locality on Wallers Lane. Most of the shops have not got any official communication from the landlord of the building yet, but say “it could be their last few weeks” once the compensation cheque received by the owner.
A senior official from Chennai Metro Rail Limited said the acquisitions have been kept to the bare minimum and that the site of these buildings would be used as entry and exit points for the station. “This acquired portion would be one of the four entries to the underground station,” said the official, adding that Anna Salai would have seven underground stations in all.
All these decades, these shops not only enjoyed a strategic location but also represented an old-world charm symbolised by arched structures and iron railings. “We are moving out after 80 years. It is not an easy thing. I have three generation of clients coming to our shop as we stock A to Z of sports, gym and children’s play equipment,” said the manager of Pioneer Sports.
Arun Madan, partner of Madan Surgical, said: “We don’t mind moving but give us more time. This place has been so lucky.” Another tenant who also runs a surgical equipment shop, added: “My business would be down by 30 per cent once I shift.”