Chennai: Notwithstanding opposition from a good many residents of Poes Garden, Chennai Collector Seethalakshmi has cleared process for government acquisition of late CM Jayalalithaa’s bungalow there for converting into a memorial for her.
Her green signal follows the public hearings held in Poes Garden where people living close to ‘Veda Nilayam’ had voiced apprehension that having a memorial there would clog their roads and make life difficult with the crowds pouring in by vehicles of all sorts and from places far and wide.
Obviously, their fears did not impress the district administration in its keenness to execute the political decision taken by the AIADMK to make Amma’s residence a memorial. The Collector in her report said, “Since Jayalalithaa was a phenomenal woman leader in a male-dominated society and a role model for women of India, the decision taken by state govt to convert her residence into a state memorial is most appropriate”.
The Collector’s report also recalled that there was a process of public consultation in which 47 persons participated and their oral and written submissions were recorded. “All of them were given opportunity to express their views in complete freedom,” said the report.
Assuaging the fears of the locals that their area would get crowded if the memorial came up at ‘Veda Nilayam’, the collector said visitors to the memorial would be regulated by online registration and vehicles would be provided parking space at the DMS office in Teynampet and the park near Gemini circle.
Reports quoted the Collector expressing confidence that the memorial would come up as soon as the land acquisition process is completed - the administration does not seem to have taken into serious consideration that Jayalalithaa’s nephew Deepak and niece Deepa are locked in a court battle for aunt’s assets. The Collector’s report has a brief mention of that case while stating that consideration amount for the property - about Rs 32 crore - must be deposited in court where the case is pending.
The Land Acquisition Officer/Revenue Divisional Officer has already advertised in the media a ‘Preliminary Notification’ June 28 (2019) declaring government's intent to acquire the 3-storied building in the land measuring 0.22.60.0 sq mts, whose ‘registered holder’ was J Jayalalithaa and the “legal heir to be ascertained”.
Justice Kirubakaran, known for his impeccable integrity, had in the course of the hearings of this case, raised a very relevant and pertinent question in July whether it was necessary for the government to spend such a huge amount of money on acquiring the Poes Garden property and convert it into a museum. “When the govt is struggling for funds, why do you want to spend crores of rupees on a memorial? You cannot spend public money like this. We cannot allow this. You better reconsider your decision. Remember your leader and do some good work; that is enough,” he had told the lawyer representing the government....