Residents of Anna Nagar have called for the speedy restoration of the twin arches located at the entry point of their well-planned area. Though the structure is not technically a heritage monument, it is part of Anna Nagar’s identity they said, and called for setting up a committee of experts drawn from various institutes.
On September 1, the highways department began work to pull down the arches to make way for a proposed flyover at the junction of Poonamallee High Road and Anna Nagar 3 Avenue.
The arches were constructed by the Madras Corporation at a cost of Rs.12 lakh to commemorate the platinum jubilee of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai in 1985.
I.V. Sashi Kumar of Exnora Club, Anna Nagar, said he had been living in the area from 1972 and when it was announced that the arches would be demolished, he was upset. “When they planned the flyover, they should have found a way to retain the arches. Experts must look into how strong they are and how they can be reinforced,” Mr. Sashi Kumar said.
Tamil Nadu State convenor of INTACH S. Suresh said the arches did have heritage value, and that restoration must take place immediately. The revised geometrics of the flyover must be worked out after that.
T.K. Pandian of Anna Nagar V Block said instead of shifting the flyover’s arm towards the Parry’s Corner side, the highways department could consider re-erecting it from the middle of the flyover at the same spot. That way the arches would remain and the flyover too, could be accommodated. The arch however, should not be shifted from the original location, as had been planned by the department, he said. Mr. Pandian suggested that a committee of experts be set up to study the arches.
An expert in structural engineering said that it if the department wanted to retain the arches, it should first provide support to the structure with scaffolding.
“Holding it up with a crane hook will only aggravate the situation because it has not been designed to hold the load at that point. Normal joining may not work and pre-stressing techniques should be used. They have to test it to see whether there are cracks, if the reinforcement inside is strong enough and whether there is any deterioration in the concrete due to carbonation,” he said.
Another expert who was involved in the design of the arches said that if they wanted to repair the damage it could be done. “A team of experts must study the structure and then decide upon the mode of repair. At present, they may not be able to withdraw the support it has been given. It is not possible to cut it into segments and reassemble it, as it is not a prefabricated structure,” he said.