Chennai

50 years of an arterial subway

Work on the subway beneath the Anna Statue began fifty years ago and it was inaugurated in 1967

Work on the subway beneath the Anna Statue began fifty years ago and it was inaugurated in 1967

Those frequenting Anna Salai and Ritchie Street will have definitely walked past the entrances to the subway beneath the Anna Statue. The three-sided subway connects Walajah Road, Ellis Road and Anna Salai and is used by 15,000 pedestrians daily.

This month marks 50 years since the start of work on the ‘Round Tana Subway,’ as it is known in the Highway Department Records. In the third week of June 1965, the subway replaced a Round Tana island that had space for 25 cars at a time. Construction was completed two years later.

“People coming to the Elphinstone theatre would also have ice cream at Jaffers. There used to be a public convenience below the round tana… you could climb down to it,” recalls G. Babu Rao of P.M. Gopal Rao Tailors that has been in existence from 1974 at a shop at the top of the subway.

“There used to be other shops too, Anna Dresses near the Anna Salai side and Anna Lassi near the Ellis Road side. But now, those are long gone and other shops selling food items are doing brisk business. Elphinstone used to show Malayalam films, Chemmeen ran for a year. There also used to be an Odian Saloon, which was very famous,” explains G. Karnan Rao, who runs the tailoring establishment now.

To facilitate the construction, traffic was diverted in portions. The Hindu ’s archives show that the subway consists of three tunnels provided with RCC box section with the top slab of the box being arched. The three tunnels meet at a common circular area of 44 metre diameter. “People gathered in large numbers when the work began,” recalled 65-year-old Narayan.

The subway was inaugurated in January 1967 by the then Chief Minister M. Bhaktavatsalam in the presence of V. Ramaah, Minister in-charge of Public Works Department.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 5:04:53 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/50-years-of-an-arterial-subway/article7319920.ece