Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Saturday inaugurated “Nalanda Parisar”, a first-of-its-kind 24×7 community centre for public learning for students in the city that can accommodate up to 1,700 people, with over 50,000 books, much of it donated by the public.
Spread on a 6-acre campus, the glass tower, with shops and a garden around it, was in the making in the heart of Raipur for the last 10 months.
Officials said membership fee has been kept at a nominal Rs 500 per month for general students, and a monthly Rs 200 for those below the poverty line.
Built at a cost of Rs 18 crore, Rs 12 crore of it from the District Mineral Foundation, the Parisar has a three-floor “youth tower”. The first floor has a library with over 50,000 books. Much of this literature, officials said, was crowd-sourced — as part of a drive called “Pustakdan Mahadanabhiyan” launched for several months, people donated books to the library.
The entire area has been made a free WiFi zone, with the youth tower hosting 112 computers in an e-library.
Raipur’s District Magistrate O P Choudhary, one of the brains behind the project, said, “The concept of community learning in the lap of nature is an ancient practice in the Indian educational system — over 2,700 years old — and we have tried to create the same environment. The location of Nalanda Parisar has been chosen as one with proximity to educational institutions such as NIT, AIIMS, Science College and the Ayurvedic College.”
The area, he said, houses thousands of students from across the state who live in hostels and at paying guest accommodations.
Senior officials said it was important for the project to create a conducive educational atmosphere, especially for students putting in long hours to prepare for competitive exams.
“Therefore, apart from the air-conditioned youth tower, we have created a biodiversity park, with 18 sitting points outside for those who want to study there,” a senior official said.
“Another centre will have shops that sell stationery, books, medical supplies and restaurants.”