November 3rd, 2011
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Anna’s library to be turned into children’s hospice

Anna Centenary Library ComplexChennai: Targeting another of erstwhile Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s dream project – the Anna Centenary Library Complex, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday announced that it would be converted into a super speciality paediatric hospital.

One-year old library, claimed to be the largest and most modern one in Asia was built at the cost of Rs 600 crore, in Kotturpuram area beside the Anna University. It was built to commemorate the birth centenary of the DMK founder and the state’s first Dravidian Chief Minister CN Annadurai.

In July the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had addressed 1500 students at the library auditorium. The eight-storeyed library was built on a sprawling eight acre area, has the capacity to house more than 12 lakh books.

The decision to convert this library complex into a paediatric hospital was taken at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. In her Wednesday announcement Jayalalithaa said that the library would be shifted to the proposed modern Central Library building where an Integrated Knowledge Park is proposed at the Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI) in Egmore. She explained that the knowledge park would be nearer to the Connemara and National Book Libraries and that it would be befitting to have the modern library at the new knowledge complex.

The park as was announced by her earlier would provide all infrastructures necessary for not only the teaching faculty but also help children in obtaining knowledge beyond text books. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday also contended that there were no super speciality hospital for children in the country and this would be the first. It could be recalled that the Kotturpuram site was one of the three sites thought of by Jayalalithaa during her tenure as CM (2001-06) for constructing a new secretariat. None of her plans for new Assembly complex worked out then.

On becoming Chief Minister last May she scrapped the new Assembly Complex built as part of Karunanidhi’s dream and shifted the Assembly/Secretariat back to Fort St George. The new complex, as announced by her, would be converted into a medical college and super speciality hospital on the lines of AIIMS in New Delhi. Now, she has proposed the shifting of the modern library.

When the new Assembly complex was being built, Jayalalithaa had expressed her dislike towards it and stated that when she returned to power, she would shift the Assembly back to the 17th century fort. Immediately, Karunanidhi had converted the heritage Assembly chamber into reference library for Central Institute of Classical Tamil. Jayalalithaa came back to power and the library with collection of 37,000 titles and 3,000 compact discs containing 41 classical works was shunted out.

The fort where the Assembly and the Secretariat continues belongs to the Defence Ministry. The space constraints and the urge to function from state owned building was felt since AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran (MGR) was the Chief Minister. Subsequently, both Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi scouted for a place to build the new complex. In fact Jayalalithaa had announced that a complex more grand than the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore would be built in Chennai. That dream seems to have eluded her during her earlier tenure.


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