Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Road-Widening Threatens The City’s Heritage

While Road-Widening Threatens The City’s Heritage, BBMP Tries To Placate Residents By Offering BDA Sites
Heritage Bricks Fall To Palike’s Widening Drive On Kasturba Rd
Sunitha Rao R | TNN

Bangalore: Throwing fancy things like heritage out of the window, the government finally got serious about widening Kasturba Road. This time, it is eating into the quaint, century-old Cubbon Park police station, Venkatappa Art Gallery and Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum.
Bustling K a s t u r b a Road will be widened by 12 metres on either side, after portions of several properties along the road are acquired.
This is bound to art lovers. The 100-year-old bamboo bush on the tank bund outside Venkatappa Art Gallery has attracted many artists and connoisseurs, but now it will belong to the past — the bush along with 38 trees will be axed.
In the case of the museum and art gallery, the compound portion will be acquired. “We have written to the director of archaeology and museums in Mysore, informing him about road widening. For approval, it has been sent to the secretary of Kannada and culture department. We were told that the trees would be replanted,” said a senior official at the gallery.
The renovated Cubbon Park police station will have to part with its front portion. According to the BBMP, only compound walls of other buildings will be affected. “We have not yet started work near the art gallery as we are yet to get government approval. At present, drainage work is going on. In about three months, footpaths will be laid,” said Chikkarayappa, chief engineer (major roads), BBMP.
Kasturba Road will be developed 12 metres on either side, from the edge of the road. The project has been tendered for Rs 20.6 crore. “Though heritage buildings will be touched during road-widening, none of the structures will be affected. We are only clearing bottlenecks,” said BBMP engineers.
Visvesvaraya Museum has voluntarily surrendered land for road widening, but is irked by the BBMP’s delay in constructing the compound wall it has demolished. For the past one-and-half months, BBMP put off construction of the new wall. This is posing a security threat to the museum, which now has no compound.
P K Nandakumar, administrative officer, Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, told The Times of India that the museum is facing the repercussions. “We are facing inconvenience due to the delay in completion of the road widening project on Kasturba Road. The project was started more than six months ago and the necessary consent for taking over the required land was communicated to the BBMP. The Palike dismantled the compound wall then, and has not yet reconstructed it,” Nandakumar said.
“Each time we correspond, BBMP says the contractor concerned is not doing the job and must be replaced. Is that our problem? When will the new contractor come and complete the work?” he asked.
When the compound wall was dismantled, the trees in front were axed and left there. “We are promoting science in the museum and outside the building were uprooted trees. What a contradiction! It looked like we had cut off our own trees,” said Nandakumar.
Without a compound wall, the museum is now facing security problems. Several letters were written to the BBMP commissioner by museum authorities. “The delay in reconstruction of boundary wall is not only causing a great deal of inconvenience to visitors, it is also a real security threat to property of the museum. Besides, rainwater is entering the premises, making the museum totally inaccessible,” said Nandakumar.
The museum, which is facing space shortage, wants to build one more floor, which is why it accepted BBMP’s TDR proposal. But the civic body is yet to hand over a TDR certificate. “Though more than four months have lapsed after submitting the TDR application, we have not received any confirmation from BBMP regarding TDR allocation,” said an officer at the museum.


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