Within hours of the Madras High Court upholding the government’s decision to convert the Assembly-cum-Secretariat complex on the Government Estate on Anna Salai into a multi-super-specialty hospital, the authorities lost no time in beginning construction.
Trucks carrying sand and other construction material and earth-movers moved into the complex late in the evening and helmeted workers and supervisors got busy. Officials said the work had begun on both the hospital in Block A and the proposed medical college in Block B.
The court order ends prospects of the Assembly functioning again in the newly-built structure. In fact, the legislature had functioned out of this compound for a few years in the 1950s before returning to Fort St. George.
A look at the sequence of events leading to the filing of writ petitions, as narrated in the court verdict, would show that on May 24, 1946, newly elected Madras Legislators met at the Legislative Hall, Fort St. George. The Assembly was shifted to the Government Estate on May 3, 1952. On April 29, 1957, Assembly meetings were again held at Fort St. George and continued to be held till the new Secretariat complex was constructed at the estate in 2010.
On June 12, 2008, the foundation was laid for the new building. The revised administrative sanction for constructing ‘A’ block at a cost of Rs.425.57 crore was accorded on October 25 that year. The last session of the 13 Legislative Assembly at Fort St. George was held on January 11, 2010.
The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, inaugurated the new complex in ‘A’ Block on March 13, 2010. In the new building, the first session was held during April and May 2010, second session in November that year, third in January 2011 with the Governor’s address and the four session was in February 2011. It was brought to the court’s notice that this was the third time the Secretariat was being shifted from Omandurar Government Estate to Fort St.George from 1936 onwards. As per the submission before the court, the present government had proposed to spend Rs.26.94 crore to change the Assembly complex as a Multi-Super Speciality Hospital. Fort St. George would be renovated at a cost of Rs.28 crore.