Life Insurance Corporation building on Anna Salai, Chennai | Express photo
The Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) would engage giant cranes for lifting hi-tech equipment to dizzy heights along the 14-storeyed Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) building on Anna Salai late on Wednesday night to examine the walls that have developed some minor cracks between the 11th and 12th floors in the interior of the city’s iconic landmark structure.
A scientific study on the nature of the cracks has been initiated after the LIC management drew the attention of CMRL to the wall that showed cracks after the drilling work began for the Metro Rail project very close to the 177-feet tall building, which was the highest concrete structure in the country when it was inaugurated in 1959.
“We are in discussions with the LIC management on the issue and we will sort it out after ascertaining if the cracks were due to the drilling work on Anna Salai or due to some inherent structural deficiency in the building,” V Somasundaram, Chief General Manager (Constructions), CMRL, told Express on Tuesday.
Drilling work to construct the tunnel for the Metro Rail track is being undertaken by contractor Gammon India. The drilling would go up to 23 metres under the ground though the station, which would come up opposite the LIC building, would be just 50 feet below, Somasundaram said.
He added that it was too early to say what caused the cracks. Only after a proper examination it would be known, he said.
Some CMRL sources said there was even a possibility of the structure becoming weak after the fire that ravaged the building in 1975. The building, which houses the zonal and divisional offices of LIC, the country’s premier insurance company, has 13 floors above the ground and a basement.