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Tamilnadu - Chennai Corporation - Chennai Corporation History

 

Chennai Corporation History

The Chennai Corporation is the oldest municipal body of the Commonwealth of Nations outside the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1688 to control the powers of the then Governor of Madras, Elihu Yale.[3] The Corporation was created by a Royal Charter issued on December 30, 1687 by King James II on the advice of the chairman of the British East India Company, Josiah Child.

Prior to the establishment of the corporation, the Governor of Madras or the Company's agent managed the affairs of the Fort St. George and its residents with the assistance of a headman, an accountant, and the head of watch and ward. The Governor sat as Madraspatnam's Justice of Peace. Taxes were introduced by Governor Streynsham Master (1678 - 81). Complications arising out of these cesses and the growing expenses of a growing town led to Sir Josiah drawing up plans for a more formal body of civic administration.

The corporation was inaugurated on September 29, 1688, when the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses took their oaths. The first representatives of the corporation were from diverse ethnicities. Nathaniel Higginson was the first Mayor and he appointed representatives from British, French, Portuguese, as well as Indian mercantile communities as Aldermen. The post of the Mayor was for one year and he was elected by the Aldermen. The tenure of the Aldermen was for life.

By 1856, the duties of the Corporation became more clearly defined. By 1919, the Aldermen were re-named as Councillors. The name 'Mayor' had been replaced by 'President'. P. Theagaraya Chetty was nominated as President, the first Indian to be nominated so. The office of Mayor was however re-created in 1933 and Kumararajah M.A. Muthiah Chettiar made the transition from last President to first new Mayor - and the mayoralty has remained thereafter.

In 1913, the Corporation moved to the newly constructed Ripon Building, which was built on parts of People's Park. The building was named after Lord Ripon who, as Viceroy (1880-84), had introduced local government reforms. He is remembered in a statue in the Corporation precincts.The first native Indian to both govern the Madras Presidency and later serve as Mayor of erstwhile Madras was the Hon'ble L. Sriramulu Naidu. He served during the 1930s and 40s.

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