College proposes building of hostel; residents, students protest

A one-of-its-kind playground in Chromepet, spread over 25 acres, may soon be lost if a college administration has its way, residents fear.

The Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) proposes to build a hostel for its international students in the annexe portion of its campus, where the playground is located, on Chitlapakkam Main Road.

According to MIT students and residents of nearby localities, the proposal will irreversibly alter the playground.

They have now appealed to the State government to intervene and direct the college management to pick an alternative site for the hostel.

On Saturday, a group of residents met with P. Dhana Singh, Pallavaram MLA, and expressed their reservations on the proposal.

“Several athletes like me have trained here, played for the State and country and secured government jobs, all thanks to the MIT ground,” said R. Subramani who is employed with Southern Railway.

As of now, the playground has six tracks and if the hostel were not to come up there, two more tracks could be added to it, students said.

According to residents, youngsters in the area have used the space to practise for track-and-field events, hockey, football and other sports for over 60 years.

The playground had the potential to be developed into a full-fledged sports stadium, said a resident.

“Anna Stadium in Kancheepuram is the only full-fledged stadium in Kancheepuram revenue district. Many other sprawling grounds and playfields in the city’s southern suburbs have been neglected. The MIT playground is one of a kind in the city,” said former additional director of municipal administration, D.S. Sivasamy, who has trained athletes on the playground.

The premises also include a staff quarters for faculty members and a hostel for male students, said an MIT official. The management proposes to build a hostel with world-class facilities for nearly 70 of its NRI and overseas students who live in rented accommodation.

Authorities said the hostel was much needed and the proposal had been approved by the college’s finance committee. They had no other option but to construct the building in the eastern end of the annexe as there was a water tank on the north-western side.

An official said the construction of the hostel would not, in any way, alter or damage the playground, nor would it come in the way of senior citizens who walked there in the mornings and evenings.