Shortage of funds has stalled construction work of additional building at the Madurai Collectorate, leading to a delay of 10 months - it was planned to be completed by February 2020. Collector T. G. Vinay says it will be inaugurated by October next year.
The foundation stone for the new building was laid by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palanisamy and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam in April 2018. The building, which will also house the Collector’s new chamber, has been infused with an additional fund of ₹9.2 crore as the original outlay of ₹20.96 crore proved to be insufficient.
The Collector said the new building was necessitated as the old building had become congested with no room for expansion.
The new building will cover 10,900 square metres- 1,800 sq. metres more than the original plan. The District Revenue Officer’s chamber, District Supply Office, District Treasury [North], Department of Information and Public Relations and District Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare office will move to the new premises. It will also have a large meeting hall for officers, besides the 26 rooms.
There will be ramps, lifts and special toilets for differently abled people - a long-pending demand. S. Raja, general secretary (State), Tamil Nadu Crawling Differently Abled Persons Federation, says, “We petitioned various Collectors over the years seeking ramps and bathrooms because hundreds of differently abled people come to the Collectorate. The new facilities must be built properly and not for namesake. The floor must also be not slippery and the toilets maintained properly,” he said.
The old Victorian-era building which is said to have been constructed in random rubble masonry (where stones are laid in layers of equal height), will continue to see a flurry of activities as the grievance day meetings are expected to take place in the same place. The building, with a history pre-dating the arrival of the British, was originally supposed to have been part of the seat of the Nayak kingdom and an extension of the Tamukkam ground.
According to a write-up at the Gandhi Museum, “The Navab of Arcot who subsequently held sway over this part of the country presented the building in 1782 to Mr. Samuel Johnstone, paymaster at Madurai, and it came to be known as Johnstone House. In 1802, Mr. Hurdis occupied the palace as Collector and added three living rooms on the top of the Central dome [of the Gandhi Museum]. The Southern Wing was later added and the Collectors of Madurai came in to residence from 1882. It would be interesting to know that the first resident Collector Crole was discharged from service for his pronounced pro-Indian sympathies.”
To be preserved
The Collector said government offices functioning on rented buildings outside the Collectorate will be shifted to the old building which will continue to be preserved as a heritage structure. Moving most of the offices to the new building will help preserve the old building.