The Narendra Modi-led government launched its flagship Smart Cities Mission (SCM) on 25 June 2015, and Madurai was selected in 2017.
By Bunty Tyagi
Waking up at the crack of dawn, 26-year-old Uday Kiran from Madurai travels 20 km to a park near Tamukkam Road for an intense cramming session, with the sole aim of clearing the coveted Tamil Nadu Civil Services Exam.
Kiran is one of the around 150 youngsters who converge at the three-acre park — a hub for competitive exam aspirants — almost every day for it offers a “conducive environment” for group study, even if that entails sitting under the shade of a tree in hot and muggy weather.
Change is in the offing, however, courtesy of the Smart Cities Mission under which a library and knowledge centre with modern facilities, including tablets, is being set up on Tamukkam Road for ₹2.5 crore.
“We have set up this modern library at Madurai’s Tamukkam Road, which will facilitate youths to access to digital study material and as well as several books,” Ruban Suresh, Chief Engineer of Madurai Municipal Corporation, told PTI.
“Under the Smart Cities Mission, students can utilise the facilities, including tablets, to prepare for competitive exams,” he added.
Kiran said while the park does offer a conducive learning environment, a modern library will prove to be much more beneficial for the students.
“Several students come here every day to study. So, setting up a modern library is a good step,” Kiran said.
Twenty-year-old Priyanka, also a Tamil Nadu Civil Services aspirant, regularly visits the park on Tamukkam Road along with her friend Lavaniya for group study sessions.
She rued that the open-air setup, especially in hot and rainy weather, affects the productivity of the students.
“I come from a very small village and this place (Tamukkam Maidan) is important for students as they get the benefits of group study sessions and discussions,” Priyanka told PTI.
However, when it rains or if the weather is extremely hot and humid, it becomes difficult to concentrate to study, she rued.
“With the construction of a library and knowledge centre, it will help students to prepare better,” Priyanka told PTI.
Mukesh Kannan, who has been coming to the park for the last six months, voiced similar concerns. When there is heavy rain, it leads to waterlogging in the park and there is no proper place to sit and study, he said.
According to an official of the Madurai City Municipal Corporation, the ground floor of the modern library measures 489.12 sqm while the first floor is 239.82 sqm.
Similar libraries will come up in other parts of the city to contribute positively to the educational pursuits of students in the community, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government launched its flagship Smart Cities Mission (SCM) on 25 June 2015, and 100 cities were selected for redevelopment through a two-stage competition from January 2016 to June 2018.
Madurai was selected in 2017 by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry. Another official of the municipal corporation said under the Smart Cities Mission, infrastructure in Madurai city is being improved on a huge scale.
Sharing the details of some other projects, he said a multi-level car parking has been constructed near the famous Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple for ₹41.43 crore.
A riverfront of Vaigai from Raja Mill road to Kuruvikaran Salai has also been developed, he said.
“Madurai is a pilgrimage centre and the gateway to south Tamil Nadu connected by road, rail and air. This city has the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple at its core and many temples around it,” he said.
“Vaigai is the major river flowing through Madurai city and its riverfront has been completely redeveloped to attract more tourists,” he added.
Some of the other projects executed under the Smart Cities Mission include the construction of a convention centre at Thamukkam Ground, the redevelopment of Madurai Periyar Bus Stand, and an Arrival Plaza at Jhansirani Park, the official said.
The newly-constructed Convention Centre at Thamukkam Ground contributes to the cultural and recreational needs of the community, providing a venue for events and gatherings, the official said.
In May this year, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry extended the deadline for the Smart Cities Mission till June 2024 following requests from some cities that sought more time to complete their ongoing projects.
India’s current urban population of around 46 crore is projected to double in the next 25 years.
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