Less than a week ahead of US President Barack Obamas visit to the city,St. Xaviers College,one of the places on his itinerary,is undergoing a quick facelift,with a security blanket wrapped around the heritage structure.
Old creaking wooden stairways are being fixed,some walls are getting a fresh coat of paint,and nobody is allowed to enter the building without identification.
During his visit to the city,President Obama will address a town hall-style meeting with students on the Xaviers campus,discussing current issues,along with an agriculture-oriented seminar with farmers. Principal Father Frazer Mascarenhas said the repairs will be over November 5 and 6. A few stalls will be set up by farmers for the Farmers Mela where they will display their produce and methods.
A stage will be built on the basketball court for the interaction session. A list of 300 students from across six colleges has been finalised and sent to security officials. These students have been contacted at home as Diwali vacations are on, said Father Mascarenhas.
American Center officials visited the campus on October 26,after US authorities had confirmed the visit. Repairs have been on since,the priority being the Indo-Gothic-style wooden stairways,built by German Jesuits in 1869.
It is not specific to the Presidents visit. Such repair works are done every year, said the principal. Students,however,said the repair and maintenance work undertaken during Diwali vacations every year is minor.
The security includes eight constables,two of them with firearms,stationed outside the main entrance to the campus. Four constables have also been posted inside.
Students,college officials and labourers,who could otherwise enter the college premises without hindrance,are being checked at the gates. Snigdha Wadkar,a junior college student,said the guards are very strict and no student is allowed in without an identity card. Staff from office and workers from canteens too are being checked.