The Hindu

Queen Mary’s makeover plan in limbo

College had submitted a proposal to State govt. seeking financial assistance in 2013

- R. Sujatha

A proposal to renovate Queen Mary’s College has been gathering dust at the Secretaria­t since 2013. Drawn up as part of the college’s centenary celebratio­ns held in 2014-15, the plan has remained on paper for more than five years.

In 2003, the college was on the verge of demolition, after former Chief Minister Jayalalith­aa announced that the institutio­n would be replaced by a modern secretaria­t complex.

The students, then numbering around 3,000, the college staff and faculty, had protested the move. Three days after Jayalalith­aa’s announceme­nt in the Assembly, the Madras High Court came to the college’s rescue.

In December 2013, ahead of the centenary celebratio­ns of the college slated for 2014, the institutio­n formed a committee and submitted a proposal seeking financial assistance for new buildings to the Higher Education Minister.

According to the committee, which included Public Works Department officials, as many as 17 blocks on the 30acre college campus were not in use. The PWD, which is responsibl­e for the upkeep of the buildings, ordered demolition of the 82-year-old structures housing the chemistry and physics department­s and classrooms. Several other structures built by the British were nearly 100 years old and remained abandoned. The proposal explained the status of the buildings which housed 22 undergradu­ate and 17 postgradua­te programmes. At that time the college had 5,200 students.

Six blocks sought

The committee sought six new blocks — one each for chemistry, physics, botany, language and commerce, and one to house 60 smart classrooms, a seminar hall and staff rooms. The proposal also included an air-conditione­d auditorium with a seating capacity of 3,000 persons. The estimated cost of the structures worked out to around ₹93.87 crore. The committee also pointed out that three heritage structures — Jeypore Block, Pentland Block and Stone Block — required special maintenanc­e funds. Lack of maintenanc­e of the college had resulted in even the more recent structures such as the rooms built during the institutio­n’s diamond jubilee being used to dump waste, the committee had recorded.

The minutes of the meeting held on December 5, 2013, indicate that the work would commence within three months from the date of sanction of funds and the project would be completed by the PWD within 18 months. According to college officials, the proposal was cleared by the Higher Education Department and forwarded to the Finance Department. “We would be happy if the government starts the work by providing us one block at a time,” said a faculty associated with the college for 30 years.

 ?? R. RAGU ■ ?? According to the committee, which included PWD officials, as many as 17 blocks on the 30-acre college campus were not in use.
R. RAGU ■ According to the committee, which included PWD officials, as many as 17 blocks on the 30-acre college campus were not in use.

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