They are named after illustrious foreigners

The Salem Historical Society has urged the Chennai Corporation not to rename at least 20 important roads of the total 50 in its renaming list in Chennai city. These streets had been named after foreign personalities who, the Society points out, had rendered yeomen service to the development of the then ‘Madarasapattinam' and its society.

The move, the Society, in its written requests sent to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin claims, will “erase the vital vestiges of history” from the face of the State and rob the younger generation of understanding a slice of the heritage too. “Hence they should be preserved,” it insists.

Though it has no reservation against the naming of streets and roads after Tamil intellectuals, the civic authority should at least retain some of the important names of foreigners who had “integrated themselves into the Indian society.”

Important roads

Some of the important roads in the list of 20 for which the Society insists that their old names be retained include Annie Besant Road (Tondairpettai), Besant Avenue Road (Adyar), Besant Road (Triplicane), Arundale Street (Mylapore), Blavatsky Avenue (Adyar), Trucker Lane and Baker Street (George Town), Kelly's, Lawrence Road (St. Thomas Mount), Wallers Road (Chintadripet), Balfour Road (Kilpauk), Moore Road (Egmore), Stephenson Road (Vyasarpadi) – all in Chennai city.

It claims that Annie Besant fought for the country's and women's liberation while Sir A. T. Arundale was a social worker and president of Madras Corporation. Madam Blavatsky was a president of Theosophical Society while Indian Francis Kelly was the Madras' DSP in 1834. Major Stringer Lawrence was called ‘Father of Indian Army' while George Baker was instrumental in brining the Seven Wells Drinking water scheme to the city. Dr. Edward Green Balfour established Madras Museum and Zoo and The Madras Muhammaden Library.

Quoting extensively from Madras Musings, Wheeler's ‘Madras in Olden Times' (1882), Molony's ‘A Book of South India' (1926) etc, the Society's General Secretary J. Barnabas says, Chennai Corporation should retain the old names of these 20 streets and roads to ‘retain the link between the past and present of a city.'