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Historic Vani Vilas Hospital develops crack in foundation

Chethan Kumar, Feb 15, 2013 DHNS

Vacates an entire ward for safety; blames Metro works for it

in danger: The edifice of the heritage hospital faces threat from the Metro. DH file Photo

One of the last surviving historical vestiges of namma City that has provided millions of women and children medical relief and maternal care now finds itself under imminent threat.

The nearly 200-year-old edifice has developed a crack in its foundation, raising safety concerns not only for those housed in it for receiving medical attention, but also for its very own survival.

Today, it sadly stands a mute testimony to what skewed development does when authorities run roughshod over elementary issues of protection, preservation and caution.

According to Vani Vilas Hospital authorities, an entire ward has been vacated as a precautionary measure following the discovery of a crack in the premier government-run hospital on Krishnarajendra Road, feared to have been caused because of the ongoing metro rail work nearby.

Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute (BMCRI) director O S Siddappa, told Deccan Herald that “the foundation of the building has developed a crack and I have written a letter to the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) chief. I am awaiting their written reply. In the  mean time, we have decided that we will not keep any children in the ward who can be affected in case of any problem. It is presently vacant.”

Attached to Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute, the Vani Vilas Women & Children Hospital, was started by the then Maharaja of Mysore Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, who named it after his mother Maharani Vani Vilas.

On February 13, the BMRCL, in a letter to Siddappa, had said that the construction of underground City Market Metro Station is in progress and that during the excavation for the stations, a hard rock has been encountered. This, the letter said, needed to be excavated using “mild controlled blasting methods.”

Controlled blasting

“The controlled blasting work is expected to commence on February 18 (Monday) after obtaining necessary approvals from agencies concerned. The blasting will be done during the early hours of the day (6 am) on a regular basis till the excavation of the rock is complete. You are requested to inform all concerned regarding the same to avoid any panic and extend necessary co-operation, please,” the letter, a copy of which is with Deccan Herald, said.

Siddappa, while stating that the BMRCL had verbally assured the hospital that there was not going to be a major problem with the blasting, said: “But when I spoke to their chief engineer, he admitted that there is a problem. So, I have sought an inspection from their technical team, which includes a few Japanese personnel, sharing the technology. I am expecting a report by tomorrow (Tuesday).” He said there was no way the hospital was willing to compromise on the safety of its patients and that they were, thereby, insisting on a written reply from the BMRCL.

Showing scant regard for the hospital authorities’ misgivings, BMRCL chief engineer N P Sharma, who had signed the letter sent to Siddappa, said: “For any queries on BMCRI (Vani Vilas), contact the spokesperson.”

‘Precautions taken’

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation managing director N Sivasailam, however, said: “We have taken all the precautions needed and, in fact, the real work there has not even begun.”

Like his engineer, dismissive of the hospital’s concern and claim, Sivasailam posited that the small crack could have occurred because they have constructed a concrete building above the stone one and there could have been waterlogging.

“The building otherwise is very sturdy and we should not have any problem.

“Overall, the BMRCL has completed around 4,000 such blastings in the City and we believe that we have the technical knowhow to do it without any problem,” he said.
While the general public and those that visit the hospital need not only assurance on safety, as also the true state of affairs as it stands, the hospital, though, is unwittingly caught in the crossfire between bureaucratic highstanding and genuine concerns.


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