Incomplete Block B will be developed into a medical college

Against the backdrop of growing public demand that the abandoned Assembly-Secretariat complex be put to productive public use, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday announced that her government had decided to house a multi-super specialty hospital-cum-medical college in the complex on the Omandurar Government Estate here.

Ms. Jayalalithaa told the Assembly amid thumping of desks by members that facilities in the proposed hospital would be comparable to those at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

Conceived by the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) regime, the Assembly-Secretariat complex project consisted of two blocks — Block A to accommodate the Assembly and offices of the Chief Minister and Ministers and six departments, and Block B for other departments.

Estimated to cost Rs. 1,092 crore totally, the project had other components. Its execution came to a halt after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government, which took office three months ago, announced in June that a Commission of Inquiry would be constituted to go into the alleged irregularities in the construction. At the time of suspension of work, approximately Rs. 480 crore was spent on the seven-storey Block A of 97,829 square metres. Around Rs. 80 crore was spent on the 73,399-square metre Block B with eight storeys.

Reading out a statement under Rule 110, the Chief Minister said the hospital would come up in Block A and the medical college in Block B. The decision to locate the hospital in Block A, she said, was made with a view to putting the building, which now remained unused, to the benefit of the poor.

The proposed hospital will be thrown open to the public soon after carrying out suitable modifications to the building, appointing medical experts, nurses and technicians and procurement of state-of-the-art equipment.

The Chief Minister explained that the building — Block A — was inadequate to house the Assembly and 36 departments, which were now functioning at Fort St. George. Its space was very limited and the design unfit for official work. The Secretariat could not be functioning from two different buildings. This was why the Assembly and the Secretariat were located at Fort St. George (again), she added.

Assembly Speaker D. Jayakumar allowed an exception to the rule by permitting floor leaders of various parties, including Panruti S. Ramachandran (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) and A. Soundararajan (Communist Party of India–Marxist) to commend the Chief Minister for the move, which, the leaders said, would be extremely beneficial to the public.

They said there was some anxiety that the complex might not be put to use. However, the Chief Minister's announcement came as a relief. A member said the building had been “redeemed from a curse.”

Mr. Ramachandran accused the DMK government of conceiving the new project for “empty publicity.” But the present regime turned it into a project for a public cause, he said.

Mr. Soundararajan said the resolution had come sooner than expected.

Among others who welcomed the announcement were T. Ramachandran (CPI), K. Krishnasamy (Puthiya Tamilagam) R. Sarathkumar (Samathuva Makkal Katchi) and M.H. Jawahirullah (Manithaneya Makkal Katchi).