Chennai: If a 50-year-old warehouse in the city that houses books, mostly translations of literature classics written in almost all languages, is on the verge of collapse, it is only a perfect example of the continuous negligence of authorities for decades.
At present, the building, which stores books written in different languages in each of its 10 rooms, comes under the Sahitya Akademi of the Union culture ministry.
The onset of monsoon has added to its existing woes wherein a part of the concrete structure has slid further, allowing water to splash on the books.
“Even though the warehouse has the best books in Indian languages, very few people know about it. I feel the state government should acquire it and maintain it like other libraries,” said Anil Kumar, a third-year student of the central polytechnic college who had come at the warehouse to check the latest volumes which arrived last week.
The ‘Sahitya Akademi book house’ at Taramani, which sells over Rs 15 lakh worth of books to libraries, reading houses and at book fairs in different parts of the country, holds classics ranging from Tagore’s The Post Master, Kabuliwallah, Thakazhi Shiva Shankara Pillai’s Chemmeen to SL Bhayrappa’s Paruvam and different critiques in Tamil, Bengali and Malayalam. Nearly 1,100 copies of books are received at the warehouse every month.
"There is a very good demand for the books here, especially during the January Chennai book fair where the sales touch up to Rs 3 lakh. But, even after requesting the culture ministry for the past few months to restore the building, no action has been taken," said an official of Sahitya Akademi at Teynampet. "The condition of the building has become pathetic over the years and with the heavy rains pouring, the concrete structure may collapse any time now," said the supervisor who has been looking after the warehouse for the past 10 years.
He added that even after writing to the state cultural ministry and to the academy authorities for the past three years, no action has been taken to either restore the structure or build a new one. The age-old concrete structure standing adjacent to the central polytechnic college in Taramani now was a boys' hostel of the Egmore Arts college until the early '90s.
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