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Monday, September 1, 2014

Rajiv Gandhi statue at Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) aka Rajiv Gandhi Salai

All roads have names for easier identification ..... the Streets of Thiruvallikkeni have names such as -  Peyalwar Kovil Street,  South Mada Street, Thulasinga Perumal Street, Car Street all related to the Temple… then there is Alangatha Pillai Street, Venkatrangam Pillai Street, Arumuga [Achari / Chetty] Street and the like; there is also Pycrofts Road [Bharathiyar Salai]; Bells Road [Babu Jagjivan Salai] – there are many English names – Blackers Road, Whallers St, Dams Road, Whites Road, Woods Road, Binny Road, General Patters Road, Smith road, Patullos Road and more…   some are in their rpesent name due to mindless clerical errors and some due to anglicised versions too....

OMR is a famous, prominent fast corridor – the winding  Old Mahabalipuram Road (Rajiv Gandhi Salai)  starts near the Kasturiba Nagar Railway station -  the Madhya Kailash temple in Adyar in South Chennai – winds it way till Mahabalipuram – being the earliest route – it carries the name ‘Old Mahabalipuram Road’ – this is State highway-49A. From Madhya Kailash,  it is designated ‘toll road’ and you have toll booth near Thuraipakkam (DB Jain College) as also in other places from where one enters OMR.  

The corridor where some madly race in the jostling traffic alongside big plush buses; PTC buses; private vehicles; share autos and so many two wheelers (sadly one see / hears of nasty accidents frequently) – there are people changing lanes suddenly, riding on wrong lane, sudden turns unmindful of vehicles coming behind; big buses turning at will; people jumping over the median ….and more.. and what gives it the name of ‘Rajiv Gandhi’ .... !!  The corridor, an ambitious six-lane project with service lanes and landscaping, came in to being around 2005 – the 1st phase being  20.1 km from Madhya Kailash junction  to Siruseri — it is ever expanding and already struggling to find space for the ever increasing no. of users. 

Recently there was news that a  new link road between East Coast Road (ECR) and Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), spanning only 1.4 km, could become a reality shortly, with the State government sanctioning funds. The existing link roads are in Akkarai and Tiruvanmiyur, nearly 12 km apart. This link road will be nearly midway between the old link roads. As per the alignment, the new link road will begin at Neelankarai on ECR and join the radial road at the Thoraipakkam junction. The State government is reported to have sanctioned Rs. 204 crore for the project. A 9-span, 52-mt-long bridge across the Buckingham Canal would be part of the new link road, explained a source.

A statue of Rajiv Gandhi with former CM of Tamil Nadu K Kamaraj standing few feet away stands at Thuraipakkam nearer the Toll and DB Jain College – whether this gave the Road its name or is one of many statues put up in the State after the cruel assassination is debatable. 

There is more famous landmark named after our Former PM Rajiv Gandhi.  It is the Govt General Hospital, which traces its existence to 1664 starting as a  small hospital to treat the sick soldiers of the British East India Company. It was the untiring inspiring efforts of Sir Edward Winter who was the agent of the company that materialized in the first British Hospital at Madras. Read that in the early days, it was housed at the Fort and that the Hospital moved out of the Fort after the Anglo-French War and it took 20 years before it could settle in the present permanent place in 1772. In 1842, the H-shaped main building was constructed, and the hospital was opened to Indians.

Recently, in January 2011, the hospital was renamed Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital – sadly as one could recall that Rajiv Gandhi's body was brought to the hospital following his assassination at Sriperumpudur  in May 1991.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Aug 2014.

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