TN CM likely to lay foundation stone of ‘Semmozhi Poonga’ in Coimbatore in 1st week of Sep


PTI, Aug 20, 2023, 5:55 PM IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin is likely to lay the foundation stone of the ‘Semmozhi Poonga’ — classic themed park — in the first week of September on the premises of the over 150-year-old Central Jail of Coimbatore, official sources said.

In the first phase of the project, several thematic gardens and a convention centre will be developed over a 45-acre plot in the compound of the British-era jail, where noted freedom fighter V O Chidambaram Pillai and others were lodged during the pre-Independence period.

”Invitation has been sent to the Office of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, and the chief minister is likely to lay the foundation stone of the first phase of the project in the first week of September,” a source told PTI here.

The project was announced by the then chief minister M Karunanidhi during the World Classical Tamil Conference held in Coimbatore in 2010.

Currently, Chennai has a ‘Semmozhi Poonga’ and the one coming up on the jail compound will be the first such park in the industrial city of Coimbatore, nicknamed ‘Manchester of the South’.

”As part of the first phase of the project, thematic parks and gardens — herbal park, horticultural park, stone park, desert plantation park — will be developed in 25 acres, while the remaining 20 acres will be used for the construction of a convention centre and a multi-level car parking facility,” Coimbatore Municipal Commissioner M Prathap said.

He said the 45-acre land in the 120-acre prison complex has already been handed over to the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC), which is the executing agency for the project worth Rs 172 crore.

More than 2,000 inmates, including women, are currently lodged in the central jail, he said. A plot has been allotted for the construction of a new prison near Karamadai. In the second phase, the rest of the jail campus, including its old buildings will be taken up, once all inmates get transferred to the new prison facility, the municipal commissioner said.

Asked about the foundation stone laying of the project, Prathap told PTI, ”We have sent an invitation to the Chief Minister’s Office, and sought a date for it in the first week of September. We are waiting for the date from the CMO, but preparations are underway for the event.” On the British-era buildings of the jail, the municipal commissioner said, ”The old heritage buildings of the jail won’t be demolished. We plan to reuse them as a tourist attraction on the lines of the redevelopment of the old Cellular Jail in Port Blair.” The Coimbatore Central Jail was constructed in 1872. It is located on Dr Nanjappa Road in the Gandhipuram area.

Freedom fighter V O Chidambaram Pillai, famously known as VOC, was lodged in this jail and made to do hard labour, Prathap said.

”We already have the VOC Park and Zoo, Gandhi Park and Bharati Park under the Coimbatore corporation. The zoo facility at the VOC Park has been closed and most of the animals have been shifted out, and rest will be shifted also to other zoological facilities,” he added.

A statue of VOC was unveiled a few months ago on the grounds facing the VOC Park, Prathap said.

Chief Minister Stalin, on the day of laying of the foundation stone of ‘Semmozhi Poonga’ here, is also likely to unveil a 25-foot-high steel statue of revered Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar and inaugurate the redeveloped lakefront of Kurichikulam, which has been rejuvenated under a project of the Coimbatore Smart City, the sources said.

The 2.5-tonne statue of the classic Tamil poet in a sitting posture is made of 1,330 interlinked Tamil characters in honour of the 1,330 ‘Thirukkural’ written by Thiruvalluvar. It has been installed near the lakefront as part of the Kurichikulam revival project.

Artistic sculptures depicting women in traditional dance poses and the Jallikattu festival, besides a huge pavilion, have also been erected at the Kurichikulam lakefront.

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