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Gandhi Mandapam all set to get a makeover

K. Lakshmi
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The Rs. 11.61-crore project faced obstacles due to delay in tendering process —Photo: K. Pichumani
The Rs. 11.61-crore project faced obstacles due to delay in tendering process —Photo: K. Pichumani

After a gap of several years, Gandhi Mandapam, one of the city’s important landmarks, will soon gain a facelift.   

The announcement regarding the project to beautify the memorial complex was made nearly a year ago in the Assembly.

But the Rs. 11.61-crore project faced obstacles in implementation due to delay in tendering process. This came out of bidders quoting a higher price than that fixed by the government.  With the Public Works Department finalising the tender, work to spruce up the complex on Sardar Patel Road is expected to start in two weeks.

Though the government had entered into an agreement with a telecom service provider to beautify Gandhi Mandapam five years ago, only some improvement works such as landscaping were completed.

The new project aims to provide a major overhaul to the Mandapam comprising ten memorials. In order to enable repair work, visitors will not be allowed in some parts of the complex. The old footpath is being removed to facilitate the laying of a new walkers’ path running to a distance of nearly one km.

Officials of the PWD said that three types of grass would be used for landscaping apart from indigenous plants with the assistance of Forest Department.

In addition, the leaky roofs will be fixed and the memorials renovated. Stormwater drains will also be constructed and new name boards installed to educate the visitors about the significance of the memorials.

“We plan to erect water fountains around the complex. Two small ponds would also be created,” said an officials. The complex has memorials for former chief ministers Rajaji, Bhakthavatchalam and Kamaraj. The oldest of the memorials for Mahatma Gandhi was inaugurated in 1956.

The latest memorial, for dalit leader Rettamalai Srinivasan, was added about six years ago. Officials said the complex also has memorials for those who participated in the language stir in 1960s.  

Visitors can also learn about the lives and times of national leaders at the libraries and museums dedicated for Mahatma Gandhi and Rajaji in the complex.

Gandhi Mandapam also has the oil extractor (chekku) used by freedom fighter V.O. Chidambaram Pillai at Coimbatore prison on display at its Thyagigal Manimandapam. 

Visitors want the department to maintain cleanliness and hygiene at the important landmark to attract more tourists. The beautification project is expected to be completed in eight months.

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