Over 60 residents to be relocated to Kannagi Nagar to make way for CMRL station

The Sunday service at CSI Tamil Wesley Church may not be the same any longer, says 73-year-old S. Somakumar, who has been a visitor to the church since 1960.

“This church turned me from a disorderly youth into a respectable man. It stood strong all these years. It hurts to look at the cracks on the church walls today,” he says.

On Friday night, tremors resulting from Metro Rail’s tunnel-boring work under the church resulted in the development of cracks on the 152-year-old structure in Broadway.

The church is a Grade 2A heritage building, as per the Justice E. Padmanabhan Committee report, a document that lists heritage structures in the city.

Officials of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) say they took measures to prevent such accidents. But the soil condition is difficult to handle and makes tunnelling a very challenging task, an official says.

“We have been keeping track of the state of the buildings, on stretches where tunnel boring is happening, using building settlement meter and tilt meter. Drilling is carried out in a controlled environment by maintaining grout volume and pressure and keeping tunnelling speeds well within the control of 22-25 mm per minute,” he says.

As a precautionary measure, last week, CMRL sought closure of over 10-13 shops near the church, say shopkeepers in the vicinity. A. Huzafa (37), who runs an automobile repair shop, says, “I have suffered losses of around Rs. 5,000 a day over the past few days. I haven’t been able to pay my employees.” A CMRL official says the shops can open on Monday.

Metro Rail work in Broadway may also force several residents in the vicinity of the church to shift to Kannagi Nagar. Over 60 residents may be relocated to make way for the Metro Rail station, says a CMRL official. “We have already relocated 17 of the 60 residents to Kannagi Nagar. The others will be shifted on Monday. This is inevitable because the entrance to the station will come up in this area,” says the official.

S. Mariamma, 47, who has lived on Davidson Street in Broadway all her life, says her livelihood will be affected if she moves to Kannagi Nagar. “I have been selling flowers in the area for ages now. If I relocate, I will have to spend Rs. 50 on transportation. I earn just about Rs. 100 a day. My son studies in a college in Nungambakkam. Imagine his plight if he has to travel from Kannagi Nagar to Nungambakkam every day,” she says.

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