SATURDAY, 26 JANUARY 2013 00:26 KUMAR CHELLAPPAN | CHENNAI
The Madras High Court on Thursday drove the last nail into the coffin of a grand dream of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi when it upheld the decision of the AIADMK Government to convert the new Legislative-Assembly-cum-Secretariat complex built at Chennai into a super speciality hospital.
The Assembly complex was a dream project of Karunanidhi which was inaugurated on March 13, 2010 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, though the works remained unfinished. Interestingly, the rationalist DMK leader preferred to have the inauguration of the new Secretariat on 13th to send the message that he does not believe in the superstitions associated with the number.
Since the works remained incomplete, Karunanidhi had hired the services of movie scenic director Thotta Tharini to put up a cinema set resplendent with a dome made of hard board and Plaster of Paris. Jayalalithaa had made it known from the beginning itself that the AIADMK would shift the Secretariat and Assembly back to the colonial style old Secretariat, popularly known as Fort Saint George.
She did not visit the new Secretariat even once and bureaucrats had to put in extra hours to reconvert Fort Saint George back to its original form even as the results of the 2011 Assembly elections were pouring in from all parts of the State.
One of the first administrative decisions taken by the Jayalalithaa Government was to convert the new Secretariat complex into a super speciality hospital-cum-medical college exclusively for the weaker sections of the society. The Secretariat Complex was built at a whopping budget of `551 crore. The Government may have to spend another `27 crore to convert the mega structure into a hospital-cum-medical college.
Though the decision was taken in 2011 May itself, it was challenged by the supporters of Karunanidhi who had dreamt of naming the building as Dr Kalaignar Karunanidhi Legislative Assembly Complex. The initial objection was about the environmental impact of such a hospital on the surrounding areas. With the Pollution Control Board and the environmental ministries green signal, the DMK cadre claimed that there were blatant violations in the procedural formalities. With Thursday’s High Court judgment, stage is set for the removal of the plaques commemorating the foundation stone laying and inaugurating ceremonies which means the DMK chief’s name would be obliterated from the history of Chennai’s tallest and biggest office complex.
Thursday evening saw workers, supervisors and construction engineers moving into the Secretariat complex to resume the works which were suspended following the stay by the High Court. By Friday construction activities have peaked so that Chennai gets an institution like All India Institute of Medical Sciences which would probably named as DR MGR Super Speciality Hospital and Medical College.