Town Hall joins list of buildings in peril

Town Hall joins list of buildings in peril

February 20, 2022

Renovation works worth crores of rupees caught in legal wrangles

By M.T. Yogesh Kumar

Mysore/Mysuru: The undue delay in the renovation of the famed century-old Town Hall — Sri Rangacharlu Memorial Hall — is costing the heritage building dear and it has joined the list of neglected heritage structures in Mysuru.

If the neglect continues and if repairs are not taken up immediately, the building is destined to meet the fate of Lansdowne Building, Devaraja Market, Saraswathipuram Fire Brigade Office and Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion. Ironically, the area around the iconic Mysore Palace and the Town Hall has been identified as a ‘Core Heritage Zone’.

The Town Hall now bears an uninviting look with construction material strewn all over its premises. Renovation works are yet to be completed as the contractor had abandoned the project allegedly due to non-payment of bills.

The structure has withstood rain and storms for many decades and a major part of it is leaky and cracks have developed all over the place. There is a gaping crack between the roof and the wall around the building and especially where the stage stands, the wall stands precariously.

Gap between ceiling, wall

The historic steps that led to the stage were used by the likes of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and now they are in utter neglect. Though plastering work was done to fill the gap between the ceiling and the wall, it has given away in many places reflecting the quality of restoration works undertaken in the past.

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The part that needs urgent repairs is the stage and both the right and left side are in danger of collapsing. Continuous seepage of water from the gaps in the ceiling has made the stage creaky and wide cracks are visible all over the place. Wooden doors, windows and other supporting beams have been eaten away by termites and moths.

The Town Hall is a majestic colonial building built in 1884 in memory of Dewan Sir C.V. Rangacharlu, the first Dewan of Mysore Princely State. It was a prominent centre for cultural activities for many decades and now it has been out of bounds   for many years.

Contractor abandons project

The Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) had planned to renovate the Town Hall and the tender for the project was awarded to a Secunderabad-based Chhabra Associates on April 29, 2011 for Rs. 17.66 crore. Only 30 percent of the works have been completed and as per the agreement reached between the MCC and the contractor, the work should have been completed in 12 months — April 28, 2012.

The beautification plan included creating parking facilities in the basement (multi-level parking), an 1,000-seat capacity open air theatre, landscaping of the entire area, development of the park, illumination, and rainwater harvesting.

Court cases

Like the several restoration projects which were supposed to enhance the beauty of the city are caught in legal wrangles, the Town Hall too was caught in the same issue. As the contractor abandoned the Town Hall renovation works, the MCC went to the Court and filed two cases — one concerning the multi-level parking lot and the other concerning the renovation part.

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Speaking to Star of Mysore, Corporator Ramesh, who is also the Chairman of the Town Hall Management Committee — which comprises citizens from various fields — said that the MCC’s hands were tied as the case is pending in the Court.

“Of the two cases filed, the Court has finished arbitrating on the multi-level parking lot case and the works have now begun. The Court is yet to adjudicate the renovation case and till a decision is taken, nothing can be done,” he said. “The Committee has already sent a proposal to the Department of Archaeology and Museums for renovation, electrification, park development and beautification at a cost of Rs. 7 to Rs. 8 crore. The MCC cannot carry out the repairs and can only provide funds. The repairs have to be approved and executed by the Archaeology Department,” he added.


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