Thursday, April 19, 2007

Old Bangalore faces a threat

Old Bangalore faces a threat
S Nandagopal | TNN

Bangalore is as old as Mumbai, if not more. The city’s history dates back to the 6th century, going by the inscriptions in some temples here. However, it remains buried, away from public knowledge.
It comes as no surprise that few are aware that April 18 was celebrated as the World Heritage Day.
In less than a year or so, Bangalore has lost over 100 heritage monuments, including the taluk office and Tuberculosis Hospital at KG Road, the Government Press, Sudarshan Guest House (to make way for Vikas Soudha), Central Jail, Victoria Hotel on Residency Road, Elgin Flour Mills (off Hosur Road), Cash Pharmacy, the list goes on...
The authorities do not hesitate to bring down these monuments as per their whims and fancy, charges H R Prathibha of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). An INTACH survey identified as many as 744 heritage monuments within the city. The demand for a separate legislation to protect and conserve heritage monuments has not received a favourable response, she added.
While the state government has done little, the BBMP has shown a keen interest in restoring the four watch towers — used by erstwhile ruler Kempegowda used to mark the boundaries — situated in Lalbagh, Ulsoor, Bellary Road and Mehkri Circle, she informed.
In association with the BBMP, INTACH has taken up restoration of various monuments, including that of the Temple Tank, Tipu’s Armoury, Mayo Hall, Krishna Rau Pavilion, Begur Temple and others.
Heritage is not about just historic sites and monuments, says former deputy conservator of forests S G Neginhal, who was in-charge of social forestry programme in 1980s. Heritage trees, Gunduthops and Devaravana (sacred forests) are equally important landmarks of a city and thus have to be protected.
As a maiden initiative in the field, the Bangalore Environment Trust has taken up investigations of heritage trees and ancient vegetations in and around the city. “The effort would get a shot in the arm if people participate actively in the campaign,’’ he remarked, adding that after identifying the age old trees, which contribute immensely to the overall health of the city, they will be marked with signboards indicating its age, utility values among other aspects so as to educate the people.
“We should not allow the heritage trees to be cut clandestinely as it has been happening today,’’ he laments. He wants the authorities to draw a comprehensive plans to protect such trees and not cut trees blindly in the pretext of development. “There are appreciable number of trees that are over 1,000 years old. The huge tamarind tree at Nallur Devarakadu near Devanahalli being one example,’’he added. You can also be a part of this campaign; if you spot a heritage tree in your area call - 9341228852 or mail
Kannada and culture secretary I M Vittala Murthy told The Times of India that the department would initiate measures to start heritage clubs in schools and colleges to create awareness on heritage sites and their preservation. “This will be a project for the year and the department will provide Rs 10,000 per club,’’ he mentioned.
Listing out the ambitious plans chalked out by the state government, Murthy informed that under the 12th Finance Commission, as many as 50 heritage structures will be taken up for facelift. “We are coordinating with NGOs like Dharmasthala Trust and INTACH who have taken up certain projects in the state,’’ he said.


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