Last week, the Chennai Corporation released the list of 52 streets that it proposes to rename in order to commemorate Tamil scholars. Madras Musings has maintained that while the Corporation is well within its rights to do this, it would do well to consider the difficulties to which residents on these roads will be put to. Also as our researches have revealed most of the roads were named in the past after colonials who owned property in the respective areas, these names need not necessarily be retained though it does mean doing away with a piece of history. But the Corporation ought to at least consider retaining the names of a few people who have contributed to the city’s growth through their hard work and foresight. Many of these men’s legacies are still being used and enjoyed by the citizens of Chennai.
Anderson Road: If it’s the road in Nungambakkam, then remembered here is Dr. James Anderson, who first encouraged the study of the flora and fauna of South India.
Balfour Road: Dr Edward Green Balfour founded both the Museum and the Zoo and helped in encouraging Islamic Studies by enabling the establishment of the Mohammedan Library and the Madrasa (now on Anna Salai).
Binny Road: How can we forget John Binny, founder of one of the ‘Big Three’ in the early industry in the South and whose successors founded the textile industry in South India? He lived on the site where the Connemara now is.
Coats Road : James Coats was the engineer of the Corporation who was primarily responsible for making T Nagar a reality.
Davidson Street: Acting Governor Alexander Davidson was responsible for the first postal facilities in the South.
Frazer Road: After all, Frazer planned the City’s water supply that stood us in good stead for over a hundred years.
Jones Road: Named after JR Jones of the Madras Corporation who worked on ensuring water supply from Red Hills. Jones Tower in the reservoir commemorates him.
Madley Road: J.W. Madley was responsible for pioneering the city’s drainage.
Molony Road: J.C.Molony, a Civilian, ensured that Madras received a treated water supply. He also authored the book ‘A Book of South India’ which carries a warm and loving portrait of Madras city.
Moore’s Road : Sir George Moore of the Corporation of Madras was responsible for Moore Market and Moore Pavilion of the SIAA where he promoted Madras sport etc.
Norton Road: Eardley Norton was one of the city’s best-known and most capable lawyers ever. He was also one of the founders of the Indian National Congress. His father, John Norton, was the Advocate General of Madras and their kinsman George Norton was also a leading advocate, who launched the petition that led to the founding of the University of Madras.
Stephenson Road: Stephenson was responsible for establishing the Perambur Loco Works from which grew ICF.
Surely, these men are worthy of commemoration? That apart, Madras Musings is of the view that this would be the right time to have some roads commemorating the founding fathers of the city. What about having roads named after Andrew Cogan, Francis Day and Beri Thimmappa?
Interestingly, both the Corporation and those who have suddenly begun vociferously demanding the renaming, display a lack of awareness on roads that have already been renamed – so much for the thought that such exercises actually commemorate any personality. Warren Road was included in the Corporation’s original list without realising that it has long since changed its name to Bhaktavatsalam Salai in memory of M Bhaktavatsalam, the last Congress Chief Minister of Madras (Tamil Nadu) state. Old habits die slowly in Chennai and not many were using the new name. Another instance is the recent demand from a certain political party that Bells Road in Triplicane ought to be renamed after Ma Po Sivagnanam. They should know that the road was renamed Babu Jagjivan Ram Road several years ago.