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New Chennai Secretariat Building

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Chennai legislative assembly or the Secretariat was inaugurated on March 13th 2010. Until this time, Madras Legislative Assembly was functioning in the historical Fort St.George. The fortress built in the year 1639 by the East India Company, served as the administrative nerve center for South India during the British Raj. After Independence, Fort St.George continued to be the center of power initially for the Madras Presidency and then for Tamil Nadu Government.

It was long felt that a new modern secretariat needed to be constructed. It was finally realized – thanks to the DMK patriarch Dr.M. Karunanidhi, the chief minister of Tamilnadu, who personally supervised the construction of this Green building. Not surprisingly, Kalaingar Karunanidhi (the word Kalaignar denotes master craftsman in Tamil) who presided over the construction of many of the over bridges, flyovers and landmark buildings like Valluvar Kottam, also paid meticulous attention to detail in its final shape.

It is estimated that an amount of Rs.450 crore (Rs. 4.5 billion) had been spent to construct this building.

Features of the new secretariat

This is the first assembly building in Asia to be designed and constructed as green building from inception. The building is well designed and contains many environment-friendly features. The complex is built on the concept of representative democracy. The new secretariat has four circular buildings signifying - the people and the legislature, judiciary and the executive which are the three pillars of representative democracy.

The biggest part in the building is the Public Plaza open to the public eventually. An open air museum is proposed to be built here. There is a circular Assembly hall where the elected representatives of the people debate issues and problems. It is the second largest complex in this building.

The office of the Chief Minister will be the smallest of the four circular buildings. This is the highest institution of the executive branch. It is the wish of the Chief Minister that his building should be the smallest.

Water fountains, paved promenades and richly decorated walls – depicting the traditional Tamil culture adorn this elegant edifice.

Construction of the new Secretariat

Mr. Hubert Nienhoff, the architect from Berlin, Germany had mentioned that the iconic building underwent some changes during its initial conceptualization process. It was originally proposed to rise up to 20 floors which was later changed to only 8 floors. The superstructure which is shaped after a temple car dome was not ready at the time of inauguration. But this dome will be fitted subsequently.

Public Works Department Minister Mr. Durai Murugan mentioned that the Chief Minister’s office which is in the B block will have an area of about 600,000 square feet. The A block which has the Assembly complex will have an area of 900,000 square feet. In January 2010, the designs were presented to the Chief Minister. The actual design had five circular courtyards, with the main Assembly hall under a dome in the fourth courtyard. In June, it was revised and the Assembly hall was moved in to the second courtyard. The plan for the fifth courtyard was dropped. Thousands of workmen labored night and day for months under the watchful eyes of the Architect and Mr.M.Karunanidhi to complete this massive structure.

The inauguration

Prime minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh presided over the Inauguration ceremony along with the Congress President Ms. Sonia Gandhi. Union Home Minister Mr.P. Chidambaram, Central Minister of Textiles Mr. Dayanidhi Maran, Karnataka Chief Minister Mr.B.S.Yeddyurappa, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Mr.Konijeti Rosaiah, Kerala Chief Minister Mr.V.S.Achuthanandan, and M.P Ms.Kanimozhi were present in the inauguration. The inauguration marked the fulfillment of Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s ambition to see the complex completed in a record time. Congress President Sonia Gandhi described Tamilnadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi as a ‘pillar of strength’. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too praised Karunanidhi by mentioning that he had turned to Karunanidhi ‘often for advice’ and that the UPA government has greatly benefited from the wisdom and leadership of Mr. Muthuvel Karunanidhi.

Chennai Secretariat