The announcement that a multi-specialty hospital and medical college will come up in the Omandurar Government Estate is in tune with the thinking of many of The Hindu readers who responded spiritedly to the call for ideas to put the complex to use for a truly public purpose, as the present government found it unsuitable for locating the Secretariat and Assembly there. The Hindu's campaign produced over 1,400 responses, with 1,634 ideas.
Based on some of the early responses, The Hindu had noted on August 10: “Proposals for establishing a state-of-the-art, super-specialty hospital on the lines of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, accessible to the poor and with facilities for medical instruction, research and exchange of ideas are numerous and may emerge among the most popular ideas.”
Some of those who wrote in were specific about the need for a hospital and research institution, but there were many who suggested that the sprawling campus be put to use for higher education and research, especially in advanced areas of medicine, science and technology. In the final analysis, among the 1,634 ideas, 496, or over 30 per cent, related to advanced health care and higher education.
Those who favoured a medical institution spoke about the need for a top education and research institution in a metropolis known to be a hub of advanced health care facilities, notably in the private sector.
About 14 per cent of the responses argued for completing the structure and locating the Secretariat and Assembly there as originally conceived by the DMK regime. Other ideas that got varying degrees of support from the public involved using it for commercial purposes, including proposals pertaining to the information technology and software industry. However, these would not have been truly public in the manner of utilisation of a massive complex on which public money had been spent.
About 10 per cent had administrative purposes in mind, many of them suggesting that government offices now functioning in rented buildings be brought to the Omandurar Estate. The police and the city Corporation should have their headquarters here, some felt. Various kinds of museums, arts and culture centres, convention halls, libraries and sports complexes were also suggested. Some proposed that the judiciary be given an integrated compound for all courts and tribunals. Sports, tourism, recreation and even the spiritual domain had their share of supporters.
The government's decision to utilise the premises for a substantive public purpose will surely bring cheer to those who supported and responded to this newspaper's campaign.