Pen monument minutes leaked, spark fresh row

Though Thirumurugan Gandhi opposed the project, he is wrongly recorded as being in its favour.
The proposed pen monument in honour of M Karunanidhi. (Photo | MK Stalin Twitter)
The proposed pen monument in honour of M Karunanidhi. (Photo | MK Stalin Twitter)

CHENNAI:  The minutes of the public meeting conducted for the proposed pen monument in the sea off Marina coast got leaked to the media on Monday, triggering a fresh controversy with several glaring errors and omissions. The document has not yet been uploaded officially either in Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board or Chennai district administration websites.   

The meeting minutes, a copy of which is available with TNIE, has recorded 34 voices of which 22 are in favour and 12 against the construction of the pen monument in memory of former chief minister M Karunanidhi. 

One glaring error is how the opinion of Thirumurugan Gandhi, founder of May 17 political movement, was misrepresented and wrongly recorded. Although he had objected to the proposed project, the meeting minutes quoted him saying the pen monument project has to be constructed with more width.   

Gandhi told TNIE, “This is not right on the part of district authorities. I will personally meet the Chennai collector and give a representation to correct the meeting minutes. I oppose the pen monument considering the projected sea level rise and environmental issues.”

This apart, fishermen activist, K Saravanan, said he had submitted a detailed representation directly to the collector during the public hearing after he was denied an opportunity to speak at the meeting despite he giving his name much before others did. 

While Chennai Collector S Amrita Jothi and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board officials didn’t respond to TNIE’s calls, a senior government official said besides recording 34 people’s opinions there were some written submissions as well. “Those written submissions are enclosed separately and will be uploaded online shortly. Any corrections needed will be made.”

The public hearing was conducted on January 31 and chaotic scenes were witnessed with cadres of DMK, Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) and BJP clashing. Tempers went high after NTK chief Seeman said he would break the pen monument if it is built in the sea. This statement was recorded in the meeting minutes.      

According to officials, an application seeking Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance was submitted to the Union environment ministry. The National Coastal Zone Management Authority has previously issued Terms of Reference for the proposed project. 

MK memorial
The monument will be contiguous with the Kalaignar memorial connected by a pedestrian pathway over the sea. 2,263 sq.m of sea will be reclaimed for building the monument.

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