Parts of Anna Salai may not look the same in a few months as many departments are chipping in to spruce up the area

The Assembly-Secretariat Complex, the majestic new landmark on Anna Salai, is already witnessing its first Budget session.

Thousands of workers and officials of different departments laboured to complete a part of it. But, more is to be done in terms of construction of buildings and sprucing up of facilities at the complex, which is the cynosure of all eyes.

Both the old and new secretariat complexes are bustling with activity with the process of shifting crucial departments in progress. The Department of Legislative Assembly Secretariat has already been moved to the new complex. Other departments such as Law, Home and Public would be shifted by June.

The Public Plaza and facilities it has to offer are the most oft discussed topic among people. It would soon add to the list of city's tourist destinations and provide space for people to gather on important occasions.

According to a study conducted by Anna University, the number of visitors is expected to increase considerably from the present 2,000 every day due to tourist potential of the complex. About 6,000 employees would be accommodated in the new complex.

Officials of Public Works Department (PWD) said that the plaza, which has 48 steps spanning more than 1,076 ft, would have ramps for people with disability. As the special design of the plaza posed engineering challenges, expert opinion was taken to ensure its stability.

Though the entire plaza was to be completed by December 2009, only concrete works were finished last month. “Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi insisted on efforts to make the plaza a safe building even if it consumed more time,” said a senior official.

The process of identifying artefacts and sculptures, which would reflect the culture of different States, for adorning the plaza is on.

The domewould be ready by April. Block B with seven storeys, which would also be a LEED Gold rated green building, would be completed in April 2011.

Parts of Anna Salai may not look the same in a few months as many departments are chipping in to spruce up the area. The Chennai Metrowater has already provided a dedicated line to the Secretariat catering to the requirement of 25 lakh litres a day.

The Chennai Corporation too has contributed its share. A station would come up as part of the Chennai Metrorail project on Anna Salai near the complex. Tendering process is already on and the project would start by this October.

Officials of State Highways Department said that most of the work has been completed except for the laying of stormwater drain and footpath.

About 50 per cent of the work covering the stretch of 400 metres from Swami Sivananda Salai to Wallajah Road was over.

“We plan to finish the project in 20 days. There is also a proposal to remodel the subway at the Anna Statue junction like the one near the main entrance of the secretariat building,” an official said.

Ritchie Street

The new development on Anna Salai has sent ripples of anxiety among traders at the busy electronics market, Ritchie Street, as the other market for automobile in Pudupet would soon be shifted.

Recalling that the market was set up during 1950s, traders said that it was the hub of wide variety of electronics items.

Besides dealers from other states, the market is sought after by many people for its nominal rate. Traders also raised their concern about increase in rent due to Secretariat complex, which is already escalating because of the prime location.

H. Chandalia, secretary of Chennai Electronics and Infotech Traders Association, said, “We have not yet received any intimation from the government about shifting of the market. But, many traders are already in fear of vacating the shops.”

However, police officials said, “There is no plan to shift the electronics market located off Anna Salai as of now. Necessary precautions have been taken to ensure security of the Secretariat surrounded by commercial buildings. Measures are afoot to make a portion of Anna Salai and Wallajah Road a no-hawking zone.”

According to a senior police official, there would no change in the traffic arrangements now. “We will install area traffic controllers, a system that adjust timings of traffic signals according to vehicular flow, in important junctions. Parking regulations will be implemented around the complex. But the measures will not cause any hardships to the public,” the official said.

(With inputs form K. Lakshmi and Aloysius Xavier Lopez)

What they say

Sathyabhama Badhreenath, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI: Fort St. George, established in 1640, is the oldest territorial position of the British in India. It pre-dates the fortifications at Calcutta and Bombay. It has been the seat of power for more than 300 years. It is part of our colonial history. One does not have to be an archaeologist to feel a connect with the structure. But until now, it has been used just as an office. I regularly got lost in the myriad set of corridors. Once the place is vacated, it will give a whole new perspective.

H.Chandalia, secretary of Chennai Electronics and Infotech Traders Association: “The electronics market in Ritchie Street and its surrounding lanes is the second largest market in the country and houses 1,800 shops. The neighbouring complexes are also being converted into electronics shops. Nearly 12,000 people visit the place daily. Though there is no official intimation on shifting the market, there is a fear among traders. Moving the market from its prime location will be a big loss to the traders, customers, dealers and particularly 5,000 workers. The Government must consider removing hawkers and regulate parking in the area to ease the congestion.”

S.Ramasundaram, PWD Secretary: The most unique feature of the new assembly complex is the public plaza opening on to Wallajah Road. The public plaza fulfils the Chief Minister’s dream of making government buildings freely accessible to the public who pay for such buildings and elect the rulers. The engineering challenges faced during the construction of the plaza were tackled successfully with focus on safety of the structure.