Heritage 'Janatha Bazaar' building under demolition shadow

Heritage 'Janatha Bazaar' building under demolition shadow

Another heritage building in the city appears all set for demolition. The 83-year-old, pre-independence Janatha Bazaar building in Gandhinagar has been branded 'very dangerous' for human occupation by the Public Works Department (PWD). All indications are that the structure will be razed immediately after the state assembly elections.

Huge barricades have come up, blanking out parts of the building from public view. Heritage activists see this as a clear sign that the building will be razed and meet the same fate as the Krumbiegal Hall in Lalbagh. The building was dedicated to the public on September 11, 1935, by the Yuvaraja of Mysore, Sri Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar Bahadur.

There is no official word yet on the demolition. But Additional Chief Secretary, PWD, M Lakshminarayan, told DH that a department report had confirmed that the building was not fit for occupation. "We have to take a call. We will examine the pros and cons and a take a decision after the state elections," he said.

But heritage activist H S Kumaraswamy was not prepared to take the 'dangerous' argument at face value. He did a spot inspection and found that the structure was robust enough but for a few areas that were in disrepair due to departmental neglect.

He elaborated: "People are working there. It is a three-storey building. Its columns and beams are robust. Only the plastering and a few parts of the ceiling are falling off due to poor maintenance." In his view, the heritage building could be easily restored either by the archeological department or the PWD itself.

Reports indicate that an eight-storey commercial complex is planned on the spot once the demolition job is done. However, Lakshminarayan maintained that the new structure would come up behind the Janatha Bazaar building, now being operated by the Karnataka State Co-operative Consumers' Federation (KCCF). The PWD had reportedly asked the KCCF to get the building vacated in November last year to construct the commercial building.

Constructed for the Asiatic Government Security Life Assurance Company Limited by Messrs Gannon Drunkenly & Co Ltd, the Janatha Bazaar building had Kumaraswamy's grandfather H C Ramaswamy as one its chief engineers.
DH News Service

A heritage structure under draft RMP-2031

The structure is listed as a heritage building in the draft Revised Master Plan 2031 recently prepared and released by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), reminds INTACH convenor Meera Iyer. "Even though the plan has not yet been approved, the government at least should abide by regulations it has formulated," she added.

The building, Iyer contended, has strong sentimental association for many people. "Worldwide, governments have realised the importance of heritage for a city. Isn't it time Bengaluru's government also did so? Further, the government is supposed to be a guardian of our heritage, not the demolisher of it."

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