Meet the last living members of team that put together Soudha

Meet the last living members of team that put together Soudha

The three living members of the engineering team that gave form to the Vidhana Soudha in the 1950s get nostalgic as the state government plans to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the seat of power.

K Swamy (84), T Ranganath and R Prasad (92) were part of the 19-member team that played a key role in the construction of the Vidhana Soudha.

"I started my career as an assistant supervisor along with my friend Ranganath. We were part of every stone slab and pillar being erected. I used to handle files and finances, coordinate with engineers and labourers and supervise the work throughout the day," said Swamy who retired after serving in the Central government.

The foundation stone for the magnificent stone building was laid in 1951. Construction started in 1952 and took four years to complete. Stones were brought from Mallasandra, Bettahalasur, slabs from Doddaballapur and blocks from quarries on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Construction cost Rs 1.86 crore.

At least 200 labourers, from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, toiled day and night to put together what has come to be known as the greatest legislature building in India.

Ranganath and Swamy had joined work the same day in 1953.

"One day, a team of 36 labourers struggled from 9 am to noon to shift a pillar shaft atop Casuarina poles. One labourer, Mahadaya, came up to me and offered a solution. The engineer set aside his ego and permitted Mahadaya to work to the plan. The shaft was finally erected with the help of 24 labourers," Swamy recalled.

According to the octogenarian, the labourers had a healthy competition. They would get together for lunch and after work to have a good time. "No one was corrupt then and there was the dignity of labour," he added.

Ranganath says he never went to the Vidhana Soudha after the construction got over. "We were neither invited to the opening ceremony nor were thanked," he said. "It is too late now."

Then chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah took a personal interest in the Vidhana Soudha's construction. He would bring architectural ideas from the places that he had visited. He used to visit the construction site every day and interact with engineers as well as labourers, Ranganath recalled.

Swamy recounts a particular incident: "In the north wing's first block, Hanumanthaiah had directed the engineers to create a passage between the portico and the main structure. The idea was to help in carrying loads and create a passage for the flag mast. The engineer had forgotten it. When Hanumanathaiah returned from the tour, a few days later, he came to this site for inspection and found that there was no opening in the wall. He got that structure redone."

The government is celebrating the diamond jubilee of the Vidhana Soudha on October 25 and 26.

DH News Service

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