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Needed: Better roads to church

Kavita Kishore
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Visitors to this ancient church are put to immense hardship

162-years-old:The Nellithope Madha Koil at Puducherry.— Photo G. Krishnaswamy
162-years-old:The Nellithope Madha Koil at Puducherry.— Photo G. Krishnaswamy

The 162-year-old ‘Nellithope Madha Koil’ or Our Lady of Assumption Church is a landmark in the area and was built in 1850 to serve the Catholic people in Nellithope and the surrounding areas.

Most people who visit the Church these days, are often put to hardships due to the bad condition of the approach roads.

“Around two weeks ago, an old man in the parish who had come to the church, tripped on one of the potholes, fell down, and was injured badly. He had to be admitted to a nearby hospital for treatment,” Father Kolandaisamy, the parish priest said.

There are four roads that lead to the church, and all of them are ill equipped to handle the large crowds that visit the premises.

Every Sunday, over 5000 people attend mass, and it is even more during special occasions.

During Christmas more than 10,000 people come for the mass conducted during the day and at midnight. At times the visitors are forced to watch the mass, standing on the streets and watching it on televisions.

Car festival

The problem is felt more during the car festivals. The chariot is taken out as part of the festivities. This happens five times a year.

For the past eight years nothing has been done much about the condition of the roads.

Even the local MLA Om Shakthi Shekar took up the issue, and a memorandum was submitted to the Lieutenant Governor, on Wednesday, he said.

Earlier, a group of people from the parish submitted a petition to the Union Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office, asking him to take measures to improve the roads.

According to the petition submitted by the MLA, a resolution was passed in 2010 by the Municipality and a detailed plan was prepared with an estimate of Rs. 2,39,87,000 under the NABARD scheme and proposals were sent for their approval.

No action, however, has been taken to fix the roads and Municipality has also not allowed the scheme to be taken up under the MLA-Local Area Development scheme, it said.

In 2012-13 Rs. 50 crore was earmarked under the MLA LAD fund to renovate two of the roads – Convent Street and Madha Koil Street – and even that fund has not been released, the letter says.

Church history

The Our Lady of Assumption Church was built on the grounds donated by Mrs. Jeanne Dupleix that was meant specifically for the poor Catholic people of Puducherry. The first Church was built in 1750 by the MEP missionaries from France, but in 1840 there was a massive flood in the area and the church had to be rebuilt.

On 18 January 1841, the first foundation stone was laid for the Church in its present form.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters established their convent here in 1854 and the Immaculate Heart of Mary school was started here. Initially, the church had 2000 Catholics in the parish, and today, the number exceeds 15,000.

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