'Won't build Karunanidhi library at Pennycuick’s home'

Karunanidhi’s memorial library not coming up at Pennycuick’s house: Stalin

The Chief Minister said he was intervening in the issue and making a clarification only because 'wrong propaganda' should not be recorded in the House proceedings

Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin. Credit: PTI Photo

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Wednesday rejected as “baseless” claims by AIADMK that a building in Madurai where British Colonel John Pennycuick lived was being razed down to build a world-class library in memory of late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi.

In reply to the issue raised by AIADMK MLA from Madurai Sellur K Raju, Stalin said there was no evidence to show that John Pennycuick, a revered figure in southern Tamil Nadu for his pivotal role in the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala’s Idukki district, lived in the British-era building, which is now a staff quarters of the Public Works Department (PWD). 

The DMK government has decided to raze down the staff quarters to construct a world-class library in honour of Karunanidhi at a cost of Rs 70 crore. AIADMK and other opposition parties had raised the issue in early August, but the PWD said there was no evidence to establish that Pennycuick lived in the building.

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“This issue has been spoken outside the Assembly. The PWD minister has given a detailed explanation. If there is any proof (to establish Pennycuick lived there), we will certainly look into it. If there is proof, we are ready to shift the location. But there is no proof whatsoever,” Stalin said in his intervention in the Assembly. 

The Chief Minister said he was intervening in the issue and making a clarification only because “wrong propaganda” should not be recorded in the House proceedings. Earlier, Finance Minister P T R Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, who also hails from Madurai, told Raju in the Assembly that his claims were “wrong.”

“That house does not belong to John Pennycuick. It is evident that Pennycuick passed away in 1911. The house was built between 1912 and 1915. Hence this house could not have belonged to Pennycuick,” Thiaga Rajan said in his reply, adding that he had to clarify because the legislator is trying to “record false information”.

John Pennycuick was behind the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam, maintained by Tamil Nadu despite being in Kerala, is the lifeline of lakhs of farmers in Theni, Madurai and other districts in the region. The library to be constructed at a cost of Rs 70 crore will have eight floors and a collection of over six lakh books.

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