Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, May 09, 2002
TN planning to shift Secretariat
A view of Fort St. George, where the Secretariat is now located.
CHENNAI, May 8
THE Tamil Nadu Government plans to shift the base of its operations to a new 2000-acre `administrative city' to come up on the East Coast Road between Chennai and Mahabalipuram.
Intervening during the debate on the demand for grants to the Finance Department on Wednesday, the Chief Minister, Ms J. Jayalalithaa, said that a spacious administrative city would be built on the way to Mahabalipuram to house the Secretariat and the administrative offices. Space will also be provided for a residential section for the officials and hostel for the Members of the Legislature.
The move was contemplated against the backdrop of the severe congestion at the present location, the Fort St. George. While the complex itself was small, about a third of the space available belonged to the Defence establishment, the Chief Minister said.
Ms Jayalalithaa said that the Government had been planning to make an official announcement in this regard at the appropriate time. But since Ms D. Yashoda, Congress - I, had brought up the issue, she had decided to make the announcement today, she said.
The foundation for the Fort St. George, where the Secretariat is now located, was laid in April 1640. In 1650, the Fort St. George was made a separate Presidency and a year later it became the headquarters of the English settlement on the Coromandel Coast.
The Tamil Nadu Secretariat started with the Public Department, which was established in 1670. During that period there was a provision of one Secretary in the Public Department who dealt with all the businesses of the Government.
This department was also called the chief secretariat of the Madras Presidency. Subsequently, the number of departments were increased as the duties of the then Government increased.
At the time of Independence, Madras State comprised Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and some territorial areas of the present Kerala. In 1953, Madras was bifurcated into Andhra Pradesh, comprising Telugu speaking areas, and Madras, comprising Tamil speaking areas.
In the past too, suggestions had been made to shift the administrative headquarters or even the State's capital out of Madras, but none of them materialised.
The Secretariat now has about 40 departments each headed by a Secretary.
Apart from those working at the State Secretariat and in the Defence establishment, a lot of visitors crowd the Fort St. George, either to meet the ministers or MLAs, and some to meet the IAS officers.
Besides, the Fort is a tourist destination in Chennai, especially among foreigners.
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