Sunday, January 22, 2012

Panel to study heritage buildings in Chennai

A major fire broke out in Khalsa Mahal, a heritage building, destroying the offices of the directorates of Social Welfare, and Industries and Commerce, in the early hours of January 16, 2012. File photo: R. Ragu
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has asked a technical committee, formed to examine the stability of the fire-ravaged Kalas Mahal in Chepauk here, to study the state of heritage government buildings in Chennai.
It will submit a report on safety measures to be undertaken in such buildings, according to a government release on Saturday.
The Chief Minister has also directed officials to carry out periodic checks on fire safety equipment in government buildings, ensure they are kept ready in the event of fire and that electrical equipment are tested at regular intervals and defects, if any, rectified.
Headed by former Dean (Civil Engineering) of Anna University A.R. Santhakumar, the committee includes Engineer-in-Chief of the Public Works Department (Buildings) R. Gopalakrishnan and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA)'s Chief Planner and convener of the CMDA's heritage committee C. Palanivelu.
Ms. Jayalalithaa instructed the panel to submit its report on the Kalas Mahal in five days. Besides studying the issue of stability of the structure, it would explore the possibility of restoring the heritage building or constructing a replica of the old structure.
The damage suffered by the Social Welfare Directorate has been estimated at Rs.1.2 crore and the Industries and Commerce Directorate, Rs.1.5 crore.
The offices of the two directorates have been provided with alternative accommodation.
The Social Welfare Directorate has started functioning from an unused building of Chennai Corporation's primary school at Chintadripet and the Directorate of Industries and Commerce from the headquarters of the Industrial Cooperative Bank's at Raja Annamalaipuram.
As an initial measure, the Social Welfare Directorate has been allotted Rs.96 lakh and the Industries and Commerce Directorate Rs.1.5 crore for purchasing furniture and stationery.
Ms. Jayalalithaa asked officials to re-construct employee service records and files. She held a meeting with senior Ministers and officials at the Secretariat to review the situation in the wake of the fire at Kalas Mahal.

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