Repair work on the CSI Wesley Tamil Aalayam may begin on Monday and be completed in a week’s time, said the members of the church after they received assurance from officials of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL).
R. Yesuraj (50), one of the members of the church, said, “One of the officials promised the work would start tomorrow and may be finished by next Sunday. When asked if the same incident would occur when the second tunnel boring machine (TBM) starts functioning, the official said the church may not be affected as the excavation would take place 15 metres away.”
Around 1.30 a.m. on Saturday, the 152-year-old heritage structure developed cracks after a TBM drilled underneath the church as part of the on-going tunnelling work between Mannady and Madras High Court. CMRL officials visited the church on Sunday and interacted with the members.
“The officials have given a letter stating they may want to evacuate this building while carrying out the repair work. But we will discuss with the other members of the church and respond to the letter on Monday,” said Mr. Yesuraj.
Meanwhile, CMRL officials said they planned to inspect the building again on Monday with experts from IIT-Madras.
Many members refrained from attending the Sunday service. Victor Jebaraj (name changed), one of the members, said, “Many of us are upset about this incident; my wife has been crying since yesterday. It was only in February we collected Rs. 22 lakh to renovate the church.”
While 17 of 60 residents in the church’s vicinity have been relocated to Kannagi Nagar to make way for the Metro station, the rest may be shifted on Monday.
Shanthi Damodaran, 42, living on Davidson Street since her birth, said the officials took them to Kannagi Nagar a few weeks ago and showed them the apartment they had to temporarily move into, before permanently shifting into a new building.
“They asked us to move to Kannagi Nagar on Monday. But we won’t leave this place unless they give a written undertaking that they will shift us to the new building in three months,” she said.