Mysore/Mysuru: Following the recent dismissal by the Karnataka High Court of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition expressing concerns about the Mysuru City Corporation’s (MCC) plan to demolish and reconstruct the 137-year-old Devaraja Market due to its deteriorated condition and to replace it with a new building, the Mysuru Grahakara Parishat (MGP) convened a monthly meeting to delve into the implications of the Court’s ruling.
The meeting, held last evening at Yadavagiri, extensively addressed the issues and decisions pertaining to the preservation of the historic market at the city’s core, which faces the risk of demolition for a fresh construction endeavour.
Diverse heritage experts and MGP members articulated their apprehensions about the potential loss of heritage if the Devaraja Market were to be razed. They highlighted the cultural and historical significance of heritage structures and stressed that the Government bears a responsibility to safeguard them.
Parishat members, along with other individuals, unanimously resolved to submit representations to the Government, MCC, and the Department of Archaeology, Heritage, and Museums, urging a reconsideration of the demolition plan.
Nestled in the heart of the city, the iconic Devaraja Market stands as a testament to the city’s illustrious history. This traditional edifice owes its preservation till now to the unwavering efforts of activists who rallied to protect it from impending demolition, they observed.
Noted heritage expert Prof. N.S. Rangaraju, also a member of the District Heritage Conservation Committee, highlighted the dilapidated state of the Devaraja Market, attributing its deterioration to prolonged neglect. The collapse of its northern gateway in 2016 served as a turning point, prompting deliberations on the fate of this heritage landmark, he observed.
Government’s role in heritage
He underscored the Government’s responsibility in safeguarding traditional structures, temples, and inscriptions, particularly the role of the Department of Archaeology, Museums, and Heritage across various districts, including Mysuru.
C.N. Manjula, Deputy Director of the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, expounded on the imperative to protect heritage buildings and the role of the Department. She elucidated the traditional heritage conservation practices executed by the Department in diverse districts, encompassing the maintenance and protection of traditional structures, temples and monuments.
Concerns were raised about potential repercussions if the Government were to compromise the preservation of the Devaraja Market by replacing it with a new structure. Such a transformation could disrupt the businesses and livelihoods of traders and consumers deeply tied to the area, they said.
MCC’s decision flayed
Criticism was levelled against the decision of the MCC to proceed with the demolition of the Devaraja Market, despite prevailing dissatisfaction among the people of Mysuru. The MCC, consisting of 65 members, sanctioned the demolition and subsequent construction of a new building, a decision made by individuals seemingly unfamiliar with heritage preservation and displaying minimal regard for historic structures, they said.
The complex nature of the situation was underscored, with a call for prudence and caution in decision-making. Certain members expressed grievances over decisions influenced by a subset of expert officials exerting undue influence on the Government.
MGP members Bhamy V. Shenoy, K.S. Narasimhamurthy, V.S. Sethuram, G. Sridhar, S. Sobhana, Usha, Raghavendra, S.V. Shankar, Arun Kumar Shetty, H.V. Subbegowda, C.R. Ashwath Narayan, N. Anjum, Ravishankar, N. Manjunath, B. Sharathchandra, Krishna Jamboor, D.V. Dayananda Sagar, Leela Venkatesh, Rajendra Prasad, Kiran and others were present.