Erected last year, it has remained little noticed

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s announcement in the Assembly on Tuesday with regard to installing a statue for Mother Tamil at Madurai on the lines of the Statue of Liberty in New York has turned the spotlight on a little known replica of the statue at Palkalai Nagar near Nagamalai Pudukottai here.

Though perched atop a building on the main road leading to Theni and Munnar, the replica has gone largely unnoticed by the residents of Madurai except for those who commute through the locality regularly.

Approximately six feet tall, the replica is mounted on a 10-foot pedestal constructed on the terrace of the building housing the Madurai branch office of the International Tamil University (ITU), headquartered at Maryland in the United States. It had been sculpted with brick and mortar by ‘Sirpi’ Selvam, a sculptor from Bodinayakanur in Theni district.

When contacted, ITU branch manager E. Anusuya said the replica is the result of their founder-chancellor S. Selvin Kumar’s thirst to do things which others had not done before. “He had installed the Statue of Liberty at Madurai in September 2012 and a bronze statue of Saint Poet Thiruvalluvar at Maryland in the United States about three years ago,” she said. A former history lecturer at Madurai Kamaraj University, Mr. Kumar had taken voluntary retirement in 1989 to move to the United States. He founded ITU and entered into tie-ups with many south Indian universities, including Madurai Kamaraj University here, to operate study centres of their distance education programmes in the US. “Our founder has a liking for artefacts. During a visit to Bodinaickanur in 2012, he wanted to know if it was possible to create a replica of the Statue of Liberty. ‘Sirpi’ Selvam took up the challenge and created this statue within 15 days, assisted by just three labourers and at an unbelievable cost of around Rs. 50,000,” Ms. Anusuya added.

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