For over 25 years, the Tamil Nadu State government and policy makers were in search of a suitable location for the Secretariat.
It all started with the decision of the M.G. Ramachandran regime in May 1983 to build a Secretariat building opposite Fort. St. George. At the height of water scarcity in Chennai, MGR had even floated the idea of shifting the administrative capital of the State to somewhere near Tiruchi. But, this dream did not receive popular approval.
Nearly 20 years later, in May 2002, Jayalalithaa, then the Chief Minister, announced in the Assembly that the government was considering a 2,000-acre administrative city near Mamallapuram.
Later it was stated that the proposed city would come up in Thiruvidanthai and Thaiyur villages, about 40 km south of Chennai. In January 2003, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) signed an agreement with the Construction Industry Development Board of Malaysia for a feasibility study of the administrative city project.
Subsequently, Ms. Jayalalithaa informed the Assembly that as the proposed administrative city would take 15 to 25 years to build, the Secretariat would be shifted to a vacant space opposite the Marina Beach in two years. The new building would be more majestic than Bangalore's Vidhana Soudha, she asserted.
Originally, the Lady Willingdon College campus was chosen. But, since the area (about 15 acres) of the campus was found inadequate, the then Chief Minister, in April 2003, announced the 30-acre Queen Mary's College campus. However, this plan was abandoned because of a variety of reasons — political and legal.
Five months later, the government decided to establish the Secretariat over an extent of 43 acres in Kotturpuram.
The land belonged to Anna University, the Madras University and the State Government Data Centre. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority was entrusted with the work of selecting the architect and the construction agency apart from being authorised to mobilise funds.
Five months later, the government decided to establish the Secretariat over an extent of 43 acres in Kotturpuram. In October that year, Ms. Jayalalithaa laid the foundation stone for the project. Seven months later, there was rethinking on the project.
In May 2007, when the Assembly organised celebrations to mark the completion of 50 years of association of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi with the legislature, the idea of constructing the Assembly-Secretariat complex was mooted. Mr. Karunanidhi laid the foundation stone in June 2008 and the site was formally handed over to the contractors five months later.
The Assembly-Secretariat complex will have two blocks — Block ‘A' and Block ‘B.' The seven-storey Block 'A' houses the Legislative Assembly Hall and the Assembly Secretariat, besides the offices of the Governor, the Chief Minister, Ministers, the Chief Secretary and certain core departments such as Finance and Home.
The cost of construction of this block has been revised at Rs. 450 crore. In December 2009, work on the construction of the seven-storey Block ‘B' started. With a cost estimate of Rs. 280 crore, the work was expected to be completed in 18 months. This block will house a host of departments.
The plinth area figures of Block ‘A' and Block ‘B' are 9,30,297 sq ft and 7,43,900 sq ft respectively.