Jaya halts work at new TN assembly building
The Jayalalithaa government on Friday ordered a halt to the ongoing construction work at the Rs 1,200-crore new assembly-cum-secretariat complex to facilitate an inquiry by a retired high court judge into alleged irregularities in former chief minister M Karunanidhi’s dream project. An announcement to this effect was made by governor S S Barnala in his customary address to the assembly. The announcement did not come as a surprise as chief minister leader J Jayalaithaa had earlier criticised the “wasteful expenditure” on the new complex and remarked that she preferred the historic 17th century Fort St George building to what she described as a “circus tent”. The governor said the commission would “inquire into the alleged irregularities like excess expenditure, inordinate delay and deficiency in standards of construction” and till then all further building work there would be stopped. As the gravity of the government’s decision sank in, PWD officials expressed concern over its implications for the contractors and labourers. “The government has announced a halt to the construction and it will take at least a few months to restart it. There are a lot of practical issues involved. We don’t know how we are going to handle the construction company which got the contract. The dome for the ‘A’ block is yet to be finished. Many of the labourers (brought in from Bihar and other northern states) will lose their jobs. Without maintenance, the building’s condition will worsen,” an official said. About 80% of the construction work has been completed in block ‘A’ which comprises the assembly hall, chief minister’s office and offices of other ministers. VASCON, a Pune-based construction company, got the contract for the block ‘B’ which was supposed to house the offices of various departments. The previous DMK government had also planned to construct a new state guest house there.