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St Joseph's College museum set for facelift

FOR students and management of St Joseph's College (SJC), the 175- year celebrations are just a few months away and the college has geared up for the carnival. With events ready to roll, the Rapinat Herbarium building and Newton Natural History Museum in the college are now being renovated without disturbing its infrastructure, thanks to the University Grants Commission's (UGC) 'special heritage status' tag awarded in 2015. It is to be noted SJC is the lone educational institution to receive the tag in Tamil Nadu, which al-lowed the institute to receive 1.67 crore of funds from the apex body. The UGC launched a scheme during the 12th Plan to provide heritage grants to universities and colleges which are more than 100 years old. Since the SJC buildings that are over 100 years old have been recognised by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the institute is eligible for Central fund-ing. Out of 60 colleges in India which submitted proposals to receive heritage status, only 19 were approved during the final inter-face meeting. SJC was established at Nagapattinam in 1884 by Father of Society of Jesus (The Jesuits) and later shifted to Tiruchy in 1883 to Robert Clive's hostel in Theppakulam. The management then had a dedicated area for construction.

Simultaneously, then SJC of-fice-bearers of SJC set up an exclusive museum to store rare species of birds, insects, animals and reptiles as well as crystal, coins and even leftovers arms used during World War IL Now, the muse-um stands tall on a par with all government museums in the State. Curator of Rapinat Herbarium and former SJC principal Dr S John Britto said the construction to of another floor would not dam-age the infrastructure as the aim is to preserve it. "The extensive specimens displayed in the muse-um were collected by the then curator. The museum comprised fauna, including mammals, birds, snakes, 1izards and butterflies and antiques," said the curator. Britto said the building's shape would never be changed or dam-aged. Instead, pillars are been lifted on either side of the building to construct an additional floor on top of the Rapinat Her-barium building and Newton Natural History Museum. "Once the construction gets over, the new floor could room some of the fossils and antiques," he said. Principal F Andrew said t 71.59 lakh has been received out of 1.45 crore for extension of the existing museum and herbarium building and the remaining funds would be received after submit-ting an utilisation certificate (UC) to UGC. Funds have also been allocated for a six-month certificate course, one-year diploma course and a re-search survey.
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