100-yr-old wing on Victoria premises to be razed

100-yr-old wing on Victoria premises to be razed

Heritage loss

Part of the 100-year-old building on the Victoria Hospital premises which will be razed. DH Photo/Janardhan B K

A heritage structure part of the century-old iconic Victoria Hospital is now under threat as the authorities of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) have planned to demolish the structure to pave way for the new building at the same place. Ironically, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa also laid the foundation stone for the new building at the same place on Wednesday.  

According to sources in the hospital, until recently, the structure housed the surgical ward of the Victoria Hospital. Historians and architects in the city claim that the structure is more than a century old. BMCRI director Dr Jayanthi said that they had records to show that the building was in use even before 1940.

Doctors from the surgical department, who took the DH reporter around the construction site said that the old structure would be
demolished as maintenance was a challenge.

“Water seeps in despite several repairs. The paint keeps peeling off. Despite regular repairs, the problem persists. We cannot house patients in a structure like this due to risk of infection,” said a senior doctor.

Reacting to this, Priya Chetty Rajgopal, founder, Heritage Beku, said that repeated proposals of this sort are a reminder of why the city needed better laws to protect heritage.

“We are very concerned about this. Bengaluru has architects with the expertise to repair such old structures. They could cost you about 5-50% more than the usual to carry out repairs but it is not impossible,” she said, adding that it is sad that the decision was taken without public consultation.

Yet another conservation architect Meera Iyer of Intach expressed shock. She said that there have been postcards that indicate the structure has been over a century old and that it was not proper to demolish it. “There is a need for a stringent law against such demolitions,” said Naresh Narasimhan, a city architect and urban planner.

“We have been asking the government to pass a law to ensure that this does not happen. All heritage structures are being demolished one by one. With this one being a government building itself, it feels like the fence is eating the crop,” he said.

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