Heritage structure now stands exposed to thunder and lightning
Mysore/Mysuru: The 94-year-old heritage clock tower ‘Doddagadiyara’ or the Big Clock Tower is under the threat of being damaged by a lightning and thunder strikes as thieves have stolen the copper grounding rod that protects the monument from lightning strikes. The copper rod running up to 15-ft has been cut and taken away by thieves and the theft has come to light now.
The 92-ft high tower near Town Hall in city was installed by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1927 after completing 25 years of his rule and hence in its memory was named Silver Jubilee Clock Tower. The theft comes at a time when the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) is planning to repair and restore the Doddagadiyara and bring it back to original form where the chiming of bells from the 5.5 feet bell on top of the tower reverberated across the city.
Tall buildings tend to attract lightning more and lightning can cause severe damage to buildings and structures. Very high current in lightning strikes produces a large amount of heat and the safety of a structure exposed to thunder and lightning is dependent on a correctly designed and installed lightning protection system.
The Doddagadiyara had the lightning protection system and the copper rod protected the structure from lightning damage by intercepting flashes and guiding their currents into the ground. Likewise many high heritage structures in city have such protection system. Now thieves have stolen the copper wire probably to sell the expensive stuff at scrap yards.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Prof. N.S. Rangaraju, Member, Expert Committee for Development and Protection of Mysore Heritage Region and Convenor, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) said that he has already brought the theft to the attention of the MCC and also highlighted the threat factor to the heritage structure when lightning strikes. The wire has to be restored immediately, he added.
“The copper wire is part of the lightning protection system and the wire is wrapped in silk cloth for better protection. Till now the system worked well and the stolen part of the wire has to be restored. As the tower is of great height, even the threat perception too is high,” he said.
Prof. Rangaraju said the base of the tower has been damaged by rodents as boroughs have been dug deep into the foundation. These boroughs must be filled with chemicals and cemented to prevent further damage, he added.
MCC Comr. reacts
Reacting on the copper wire theft, MCC Commissioner Gurudatta Hegde said that he would send an engineer to the spot and report the issue. “We need to restore the lightning protection copper wire before it starts to rain. I will initiate the process as soon as the engineer reports the ground situation. If need arises, we will consult heritage experts and restore the wire as per guidelines,” he added.
Great, all I now need is a DeLorean and a stormy day to travel back to the future.