2 Crores Public Money wasted on Fake Dome for Sonia Chennai visit

Fake dome for assembly opening
Pushpa Narayan, TNN, Mar 2, 2010, 05.46am IST

CHENNAI: That politics and cinema are inseparable in Tamil Nadu will be proven once again on March 13 when the new assembly complex at the Omandurar Government Estate is inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Since the dome that will adorn the seven-storied complex is not yet ready and safety studies are still on, chief minister M Karunanidhi has asked well-known art director Thota Tharrani to create a replica, which will cost the exchequer Rs 2 crore.

“We initially thought we would go without the dome. But we did not want to miss out on showcasing one of the unique features of the complex. We scrapped the idea of a 20-storied building only because we wanted to give the dome good visibility. Having the inauguration without the dome would take away the icing from the cake,” a senior public works department (PWD) official told TOI.

For almost 12 days now, over 500 men from OHM Decors have been working on the artificial dome under the guidance of Tharrani, who has worked as art director in blockbusters like ‘Agni Nakshatram’, ‘Thalapathi’, ‘Bombay’, ‘Jeans’ and ‘Kandasamy’.

“We are using light steel, paint and wood to create the replica. We will finish the work in a week. The dome will look just as real,” said one of Tharrani’s assistants.

As cranes lift planks from the ground to the sixth floor, the set supervisors give directions to the men working on top through a public address system.

Bangalore-based firm Geodesic had won the tender to construct the dome at a cost of Rs 25 crore. The dome — 30m tall and 45m in diameter — is meant to be a modern interpretation of the thatched archaic temples typical of south India.

The architects have already built eight steel structures that will act as scaffolds for the dome, each weighing 100 tonnes. These scaffolds will be covered with granite, and aluminium plates will be fitted between them.

“A dome is a very complex engineering structure. Though the building has been constructed in such a way that it will take the weight of the over-800 tonne dome, it can’t be mounted on the building without adequate safety studies. For instance, we need to study whether these aluminium slats should be welded, screwed in or just fixed with nuts and bolts. We require at least a month to study this. This means that the dome will not be ready for the inauguration. So we made alternate arrangements, and the imitation dome will stay even till the first assembly session,” a senior PWD engineer said.

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