A ray of hope for R K Narayan's memorial

Two years on, the bungalow still remains in decrepit condition

A ray of hope for  R K Narayan's memorial

Come September, it’s going to be two years since the government announced the taking over of noted author R K Narayan’s house and converting the same into a monument.

The property, which had run into controversy following initiation of demolition works by the author’s family members, today stands in a decrepit condition, needing immediate attention, especially with the onset of monsoon.

All thanks to the government’s apathy towards moving forward with the project, today, the family members have neither been able to sell the property (as they had earlier planned), or see the house see take shape of a memorial.

“We have continuously been writing to the government requesting it to either revoke the earlier demolition order, or go ahead with the memorial project. It’s unfortunate, but the previous government just slept over the proposal. Till date, we have received only vague replies from the government. Thanks to the government’s laxity we haven’t been able to go ahead with our plans. The property was willed to us by the author and we are the rightful owners of it now. We definitely stand for the security of the structure. Initially we were happy that the government had come forward with such a proposal. But seeing the state of affairs, we feel otherwise,” says Narayan’s granddaughter Bhuvaneshwari, who is settled in Chennai.

The property is still very much with the family, for the government is still struggling to allocate funds for acquiring the property and developing the same into a memorial, thereby rendering the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) helpless.

A budget of Rs 2.34 crore was estimated, with Mysore City Corporation (MCC) being directed to transfer from the funds allocated to it by the State Finance Corporation for carrying out development projects. But last September MCC passed a resolution at its council meeting stating that it would not meet the expenses for restoration of the building.

For nearly a year, the department of Urban Development has been unable to come up with a solution to the problem.

Ray of hope

However, following Urban Development Minister Vinay Kumar Sorake’s visit, things seem to have slowly picked pace.

It is learnt that the Minister has written to the Finance department, requesting for it to allocate funds directly for the implementation of the project. The matter is being expedited, added department sources.

The bungalow was sold to a private builder for construction of an apartment on the  plot at Yadavagiri, where the writer had spent most of his life and created many works. However, there was an uproar in September 2011, when it came to light that the building was being demolished. At that time the then Urban Development department minister Suresh Kumar had intervened and stopped the demolition, while MUDA had proposed to take over the structure and preserve it, and eventually convert it into a museum. The government had promised to aid the project, and in September 2012 had directed the local bodies to jointly fund for the upkeep of the building. The building was also declared as ‘heritage’ building under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, preventing any further demolition.

The building, partially demolished, stands in a state of dereliction. Earlier the house was covered with the rain proof sheet which were replaced by the zinc sheets few months back. However the works were shoddy. The front part has been covered with the zinc sheets, while some other parts have the torn remains of the earlier rain proof sheets. The windows and doors have been removed from the building and dumped on the premises.  

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