Another landmark goes off on M G Road

It is the end of the road for us now, says owner of Phoenix Watch Works

Another landmark goes off on M G Road

BMRCL workers started demolishing Plaza Theatre building to make way for the construction of the Metro Rail Station on M G Road, Bangalore on Saturday. DH Photo

After getting a nod from the High Court, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) commenced demolition work on Saturday. With this, Phoenix Watch Works,which is part of the building, has no option but to move out. Phoenix has been part of the complex from the time of its construction in 1935.

As the demolition squad from BMRCL descended here, R C Sharma, proprietor of Phoenix Watch Works and horologist of repute, said the decision by the BMRCL to evict old tenants came as a bolt from the blue even as he described the action as “high handedness” by Bangalore Metro authorities.

“It is the end of the road for Phoenix now. We have been the first tenants of Plaza complex, even before the theatre started functioning and have seen the road from the South Parade days, during the British Raj,” said 75-year-old R C Sharma.

He added that BMRCL had not given them any advance information or issued a notice asking them to vacate the premises. “We have not even been paid any compensation package from the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB). They (BMRCL) have not given us any breathing time. It is obvious that big money and politicians are involved,” he remarked.

Recalling his younger days, when his father R K Sharma established Phoenix (a bird described in classical mythology as having risen from the ashes), the septuagenarian, who took over the mantle in 1959 when he was 24, said: “Most of our early customers were the British and the who’s who of the City. We started off by paying a monthly rent of just Rs 50. In those days, even that was very expensive.”

“Horology and the art of repairing mechanical wrist watches and grandfather wall clocks is a dying trade now. Only replicas are made and sold as antiques,” said Sharma as he pointed at a old regulator clock on the wall. It was manufactured in 1890.

The Plaza was established by the famous Mudaliar family of Bangalore, A R Raja Manikyavelu and A R Krishnamurthy, of the RBANMS group and sold to Shravanee Properties in 2005.

When questioned, BMRCL spokesperson B L Yashavanth Chavan denied that tenants of Plaza were not informed. “After the High Court ruled in our favour, we did inform Phoenix and the other tenant, Ratandeep textiles to vacate. Let them approach us with all legal documents and we will compensate them.”

Sharma, who took the court verdict with a pinch of salt, said he knew that the time to vacate the building would eventually come. “I was present at every hearing. As a matter of fact, Justice Gopala Gowda had in a earlier hearing (April 24, 2009) on the land acquisition issue of Plaza, spoken on relief compensation. The BMRCL has to compensate us for moving out,” he declared. For him and the other two tenants, Ratandeep and Book Cellar, the demolition being carried out at supersonic speed is clearly a closed chapter.

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