By S.T. Ravikumar
Mysore/Mysuru: There seems to be end in sight on the fate of over a century old Devaraja Market and Lansdowne buildings, which have turned decrepit over the passage of time and vagaries of nature.
With no proper maintenance and repairs, these buildings are getting deteriorated with each passing day and questions are asked on when would the authorities or elected representatives do something about restoring the buildings, which are heritage in nature.
Following the opinion of experts that demolition of the structures and reconstructing them would be more appropriate than just doing a repair and rejuvenation job, Mysuru City Corporation (MCC), at a Council meeting last year, passed a similar resolution and submitted a proposal to the Government on Jan. 30, 2020 for reconstruction of the buildings.
The Devaraja Market, which was built by the then Mysuru Maharajas in 1886, stands on a 3.67 acre area (14,887.10 sq.mts) and has 724 stalls. With the buildings turning dilapidated, the Government in 2014, had sanctioned Rs. 100 crore out of the Chief Minister’s fund for renovation of the buildings.
Subsequently, the works tender was awarded to Savani Construction Company on Feb. 18, 2016 for Rs. 9 crore. As the works got started, the MCC had paid Rs. 73.39 lakh to the construction company as part payment.
Amidst all this, a portion of the northern part of Devaraja Market unfortunately collapsed on the evening of Aug. 28, 2016 due to heavy rains. The then CM who visited the spot two days after the incident, had ordered to stop repair works and directed the authorities to get a report on the stability of the building.
Later, a Technical Task Force committee inspected the spot and submitted a report, recommending demolition of the building and rebuilding it while retaining all its heritage characteristics. But another committee of Archaeology Department gave a contradictory report in Nov. 2018 suggesting that the building can be renovated without evacuating the tenants or shopkeepers of the market.
The MCC at its Council meeting held on Jan. 29, 2019, deliberated in detail on the fate of the building and ultimately resolved to demolish the structure and reconstruct it while keeping its heritage characteristics intact.
Taking into consideration the resolution passed by the MCC and the contradictory reports of the two committees, the then Mysuru DC had sought directions from the Government on May 20, 2019 on further action regarding the fate of the building.
With an intention of demo-lishing Devaraja Market, MCC had served notices to tenants on evacuation of shops. Questioning the MCC’s notice, 19 shopkeepers moved the High Court.
The Court which heard the plea on April 5, 2019, directed the MCC to constitute a committee of experts and to submit the report to the Government along with the Council resolution. The Court then had also ordered to also submit the report within three months.
Accordingly, MCC constituted a committee comprising heritage experts, which after inspection of the site, submitted a report recommending that the building be evacuated and a new one be constructed at the same place while retaining all heritage characteristics of the old structure.
Subsequently, MCC at its Council meeting held on Jan. 31, 2020, resolved to demolish the century old structure and construct a new one in its place.
Thereafter, the resolution was forwarded to the Government and since then, nothing much has happened. As such, the proposal to construct a new building seems to have put on the backbencher at least for now. Amidst all this uncertainty, the question about the stability of the market building continues to persist as the city had experienced incessant rains in the recent past.