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Renovated GPO inaugurated

Staff Reporter

The first two floors thrown open to the public



HERITAGE PRESERVED: The façade of the renovated General Post Office on Beach Road in Parry's Corner will serve customers as it did till a fire destroyed it in 2000. — PHOTO: VINO JOHN

CHENNAI: It was a proud moment for conservationists who succeeded in preserving one of Chennai's landmarks. The renovated General Post Office's façade on Beach Road will bring back memories of a century when mails came from Masulipatnam. Up the sweeping stairs at the entrance on a glass panel, the services offered are listed. The employees will serve customers from behind glass-panelled worktables.

The building was ravaged by fire in 2000 when an electrical short circuit set off crackers stored in one of the rooms and brought to an end an impressive story. But the city's conservationists had an agenda — the 116-year-old building would not be razed.

Five years later and after spending Rs. 3.6 crores, the stately building is alive to the voices of the Postal department employees, serving another generation of customers.

On Saturday the first two floors were thrown open to the public by K. Anbazhagan, Opposition leader in the Assembly and Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology. In the second phase, the next two floors and the abutting administrative block will be renovated. The entire renovation work will be completed by June 2007.

At a press conference after the inauguration even Mr. Maran could not resist recalling: "They waved a white flag to announce arrival of foreign mail."

The renovated building will house a finance mart besides the usual services. Mr. Maran said the department had sought Rs. 500 crores from the Planning Commission for computerisation. "We are conducting studies [on how] to modernise post offices." Among the new schemes is instant money transfer system for migrant workers from Bihar and vehicles for postmen in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

U. Srinivasa Raghavan, Secretary, Department of Posts, and other senior officials of the department were present.

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