The Madras High Court on Friday ordered measurement of the width of North Usman Road along which textile retailer Chennai Silks has been permitted to construct an eight-storeyed building on the same piece of land where its seven-storey outlet was gutted on May 31 last year.
Justices N. Kirubakaran and Krishnan Ramasamy made it clear that officials should not stop with measuring the width of the road from end to end; they should also measure the width of an existing bridge that connects North Usman Road with South Usman Road and the space left on the sides of the bridge. The order was passed after expressing concern over the availability of space in the busy shopping area for free movement of fire tenders during emergencies.
Kannan Balachandran, a local resident, had filed a writ petition before the High Court claiming that 40% of the construction work for Chennai Silks’eight-storeyed structure had been completed within a matter of 20 days of the building plan being approved on June 21.
Baachandran’s counsel T. Mohan stated the fact that as many as 142 multi-storeyed buildings had been constructed in violation of the rules and regulations on the busy Ranganathan Street and Usman Road alone in T. Nagar. He pointed out that a fire in any these buildings could lead to a catastrophic situation.
Mr. Justice Kirubakaran concurred with him. Later, he was shocked to learn that Greater Chennai Corporation had granted a building licence to Chennai Silks on June 29 though the application itself had been filed on that day.
“It would be nice if such fast-track licences are issued to all applicants,” the judge said.
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