The Residents of Chromepet, Chennai, have witnessed a new incredible landmark that has made its way into Nellaiappar Street, Bharathipuram. Yes, it’s the brand-new Knowledge & study Center, which is expected to house multiple books and knowledge resources which will certainly be a boon to the learner’s community in the area. This building was constructed in 2022 by the Tambaram Corporation, The Study Center was inaugurated on the 5th of January 2024 after a long wait.
According to Mr Meenakshi Sundaram, President, the Senior Citizen Welfare Association, Chromepet East, this Knowledge & Study Center is built on the land located in Bharathipuram, Nellaiappar Street in Chromepet. It was owned by the late freedom fighter Parali Su Nellaiappar, who was closely associated with the famed Tamil poet and freedom fighter Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi and V O Chidambaram Pillai, the first Indian to launch indigenous shipping services between India and Sri Lanka. Born on September 18, 1889, in Tirunelveli district, Nellaiyapar was an accomplished poet and a journalist. He was actively involved in India’s struggle for freedom.
Parali Su Nellaiappar, was working as an accountant for V O Chidambaram Pillai and was also owning and running a few magazines for freedom struggle, which earned him enmity against the British that led him to poverty. He was leading a very simple life residing in Chromepet. With the request and support from Baharathiyar’s daughter Shakuntala to the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr. K. Kamaraj, Nellaiappar was allotted a few acres of land in Chromepet. He sold some parts of the land for money to overcome his poverty. Parali Su Nellaiappar had many aspirations that would benefit his country in countless ways, one of those goals was to Provide education to the poor & needy. So, he gave some parts of the land for the betterment of the people and for the remaining portion of the land, he decided to construct a school. He wrote a Will that mentioned that after his death, the remaining land must be utilized for educational purposes only.
As per the Will, a school was constructed and commenced in 1972 as a Primary school by the then Pallavaram Panchayat. The school went by the name ‘Parali Su Nellaiappar Primary School’. The school ran well for the next 20 years. More than 800 children studied and benefited from this school. Mr. Meenakshi Sundaram added, “One of the students who studied in this school is now a renowned Doctor”. When all seemed to go well, complications struck. Since the year 1994, the number of students at Parali Su Nellaiappar Primary School began to decrease drastically due to the emergence of other Private schools in the neighbourhood and hence the municipality decided to shut down the school in 1998.
The school then remained closed and untouched for nearly more than 20 years. It became the favourite place for cattle grazing with overgrown bushes and a camp for anti-social elements. The municipality also had plans to convert this place into a Garbage Segregation Center or a stray dogs Birth control Center.
The Senior Citizen Welfare Association led by Mr. Meenakshi Sundaram was fighting against the municipality’s plans and appealed to the Government that this Place must be used for educational purposes only, as per Nellaiappar’s Will that was Presented to the Government by Nellaiappar’s grandson Thiru. Subramanyam. In 2015, the team managed to get funds approved from the then Tamil Nadu Education minister to renovate the school building and make it operational once again.
Finally, in 2022 the senior citizens’ fight and appeal were taken into consideration by the then Tambaram City Municipal Corporation Commissioner Dr. M. Elangovan who agreed to convert the abandoned school building into a library. This is the ‘Knowledge and Study Center’ building that you see standing where the school once stood. Mr. Meenakshi Sundaram expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Tambaram Corporation and urged the educationalists and the learner community to utilize this space in the right way that will help enhance the knowledge of the learners.
The association also wishes to honour the great Freedom fighter and has requested the Tambaram corporation to name this as ‘Parali Su Nellaiappar Knowledge and Study Center’ and also wishes to see a bust size Statue of the freedom fighter as a mark of respect to him.
Will the corporation officials agree to name this building in memory of Nellaiappar and fulfil the senior citizens’ dream in this new year 2024? All we can do is hope, wait and watch.