PUDUCHERRY:The Puducherry government is considering a proposal to reconstruct the 143-year-old Marie building, a landmark legacy of the French era, that collapsed days after restoration work on the historical structure began on October 29, 2014.
The proposal is to lay a new foundation by adopting the latest construction techniques, but retaining the same design, says A K Das, Manager of Marie building reconstruction project.
Earlier, the foundation of the heritage building was ascertained strong enough for reconstruction by experts from IIT-Madras, following which a proposal was made to reconstruct the super structure on existing foundation, which, however, has not met with the government approval. The government appears to be treading cautiously and wants the entire structure rebuilt, from scratch, retaining the original design.
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in association with the UT government is redrafting the proposal and the estimates for the work. Once the proposal is approved by the UT government, then it will be sent to the authorities for getting World Bank (WB) loans for execution of the project.
However, the WB funding under Tsunami Disaster Management programme is coming to an end by 2017-2018. The government has limited time as the project plan has to be approved, funds availed, work executed and utilisation provided to the WB in a short span. Otherwise, the funding may elude.
It is to be remembered that before the collapse of the building, the government had submitted a proposal to the WB through government’s Project Implementation Agency (PIA) seeking Rs 10.65-crore finance for reconstruction of Marie building. The WB had earlier allotted Rs 7.5 crore for renovation and the restoration work was formally launched on October 3, 2014. The work, which commenced on October 29, 2014, was scheduled for completion on October 29, 2016. However, the building collapsed on November 29 within a few days of commencement of restoration work.
The building was built in 1870-71 and holds a distinct place in the political history of Puducherry. It formed a part of an ensemble of important heritage buildings like Light House, Customs House and French Consulate on the Beach Road. A testimony to French colonial power, the building served as the office of the municipality, extending registration of marriages and holding public functions.