Tree fell on support pillar at Marina campus of University of Madras; students allege neglect

Since the cyclone hit the city, students and teachers of the Parithimar Kalaignar campus (Marina campus) of the University of Madras are a worried lot.

Among the many trees that fell in the campus, one rests on a pillar, part of a group of six, that supports the over 80-year-old building. Over the years, the pillars have developed cracks, which now seem to be deepening, say students and teachers.

“Since it is a heritage building, no renovation can take place without permission from PWD or CMDA. We have been seeking immediate intervention for the last two years now,” said a senior professor.

The campus houses the Oriental Research Institute, Marina library, School of Tamil and Dravidian Languages and School of Sanskrit and Other Indian Languages. The departments cater to a large number of research scholars and is preferred by students with disability, especially those with visual impairment.

The weakening pillars are just a part of the myriad issues that plague the campus, say students.

“While the other campuses of the University have wooden railings, our campus has aluminium ones that have loosened over the years. You touch them and they will fall,” said an M. Phil student.

Exposure to moisture because of proximity to the beach has led to rust formation on the windows. “When it rains, water gets stagnated everywhere and the ceiling begins to leak in many places,” he said.

The last time students protested in demand of better infrastructure, they were blacklisted.

“We sent letters to University officials. A lot of the material necessary for our research is available online. But there are only three computers here. Also, the demo rooms and language laboratories have no LCD projectors or other modern teaching aids,” another student said.

Frequent power outages are another problem and students attribute it to damaged wiring of the building. On many days, there are neither lights nor fans. We have been asking for elevators as they will aid the students with visual impairment,” a professor said.

Some professors feel the neglect may be due to the fact that, physically, the institute is not a part of the main University campus in Chepauk.

“Since last week, we have an additional registrar for our campus alone. We hope now we won’t have to run to the main campus for permission to carry out repair and renovation works,” the professor said.

A University official said he was aware of the students’ problems.

“Renovation work has already begun. Expenditure of Rs. 3 lakh is estimated for the renovation work alone. We have also asked for a generator. Hopefully, things will be alright in the next fifteen days,” the official said.

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