Principal Secretary (Public Works) says work is not being rushed

The State government on Saturday clarified that there was no compromise on safety standards with regard to the construction of the new Assembly complex on the Omanthurar Government Estate.

S. Ramasundaram, Principal Secretary (Public Works), along with a battery of officials of his department and representatives of consultancy and construction firms, told reporters at the new Assembly complex that questions had been raised about the structural stability of the building.

Asserting that the authorities concerned were not rushing through the construction work, Mr. Ramasundaram said that the work on Block A of the complex began on November 12, 2008. In all respects, it should be completed by May 11, 2010. As for the structural work, it was completed on February 11, 2010, exactly three months behind the original schedule — November 2009.

He attributed the delay to the decision of taking a third opinion on certain aspects of construction. Wherever “unusually long” spans had to be used and when there were divergent views between the department and the consultants, the authorities took the advice of A.R. Santhakumar, a leading structural expert.

Ravindra Joshi, director of Archivista Engineering Projects, Indian partner for the German-based architectural company GMP Architects, said Professor Santhakumar's inputs were used in addition to the safety measures adopted. The PWD Principal Secretary explained that Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who had inspected the site of work numerous times in recent months, was also particular that there should be no deviation from the application of safety standards.

The methodology of post-tensioning was used extensively in the building for slabs and beams instead of the conventional method of reinforced cement concrete. As a result, the time was reduced to seven to 10 days for a floor instead of 21 days, he said, adding that there were seven floors, including the ground.

Mr. Ramasundaram said that by March 13 — the day of inauguration of the Assembly complex — interior work would mostly be over for the ground and first floors besides the Assembly Hall. By the middle of May, the other five floors would be completed. As for the expenditure on Block A, Rs.250 crore had been spent.

He added that the government had not yet approved the works for a convention centre, a guesthouse and a multi-level parking facility.