Vani Vilas Hospital out to raze block built in 1935

A full block of an iconic hospital could soon be pulled down, with the medical education department saying it can't be restored.

Built by the princely rulers of Mysore, it is in the bustling City Market area, hallowed by memories of Kempegowda and Tipu Sultan.

Vani Vilas Hospital was completed in 1935, the same year another landmark, Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall, came up in Bengaluru. Town Hall has been successfully restored and continues to host events to this day.

Sajjan Rao Block of the hospital, popularly called SR Block, was vacated after work began on a Namma Metro tunnel that runs under the hospital. The hospital authorities now want to raze the entire building and not just the block.

Vani Vilas Hospital is attached to Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute. The building can't be salvaged or restored, the college has written to the government.

The college has also reported serious damage to four other buildings, including the Children's Hospital adjoining Vani Vilas.

Tussle with Metro
The medical education department has sought Rs 48 crore as compensation from the Metro authorities.

The Karnataka Health Systems Reforms Development Project (KHSRDP), which assessed the damage, says the buildings developed cracks only after Metro work began.

It says SR Block was affected to the extent of 1,806 square metres. As the stone building has no load-bearing walls, any deep cut or restoration attempt would result in its collapse, according to its report.

Other blocks that have sustained damage are the pathology, pathology seminar and ENT.

KHSRDP says Metro work has damaged water and underground lines and the compound walls, and require complete reconstruction. It has estimated these works cost about Rs 8 crore.

The hospital has sought Rs 48 crore, saying it wants to rebuild a full block and repair the water and sanitary lines.

With this demand, it has been at loggerheads with the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), which is refusing to shoulder all the blame.

It maintains the damage is minimal and not as extensive as the college makes it out to be.

After the Metro authorities refused to pay what the college was demanding, private inspection and certification agency Bureau Veritas (Civil Aid) stepped into the picture.

"The agency has submitted a report, saying only one building was partially damaged and the other buildings were not affected. It says Rs 3 crore would suffice to restore the building," said Mahendra Jain, additional chief secretary, urban development department, holding additional charge of BMRCL.

Sharan Prakash Patil, the medical education minister, says he has yet to see the Bureau Veritas report.

"KHSDRP has said the building should be completely demolished and rebuilt. I will convene a meeting shortly and take a call on the recommendations of the technical report," he told DH.

In the vicinity, BMRCL is paying Rs 30 crore as compensation for the military canteen (near C Block), Janata Bazaar, the microbiology and Sirur blocks, and a public toilet, all of which have been brought down.

It is also in the process of paying Rs 17 crore to acquire an additional 1,900 sq mt of land from the hospital.

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