BANGALORE: English memsahibs once adorned the streets of Russell Market while shopping for fresh fruits and flowers, built in old English style architecture, the Russell Market now stands on the verge of being razed from the ground. This 85-year-old heritage structure suffered damage in a massive fire mishap that according to the BBMP is ‘irreversible’. So their solution to the disaster- razing the structure and to rebuilt it from scratch.
However, this idea seems to have infuriated Karnataka heritage experts, who have voiced anger against bringing down of heritage buildings. “If this heritage structure is demolished, then the city would lose yet another historical structure. Reconstruction can be done by maintaining the core outside of a structure, while modernising it internally. It is important to maintain the outward look because this structure belonged to the British period. The ambiance has to be retained,” argued G Asvathanarayan, Karnataka convenor, Indian National Trust for Architectural and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Even after several complaints by the members of Russell Market Association, the BBMP took little interest to maintain the structure.
“Many heritage structures are dilapidated. To my knowledge, there is no regulation to declare any building as a heritage structure. The government can label a building as a heritage structure. Besides, the BBMP need not take our permission to maintain the building or reconstruct it. However, we would support the BBMP to retain the old charm of this building,” Asvathanarayan said. The state government recently introduced the Heritage Department with an idea to maintain the old structures in the state but remained clueless about this disaster.
“I am not aware of the latest developments. We would have to take stock of the situation first to see if this is justified. All the nuances will have to be kept in mind,” said Neela Manjunath, Commissioner, state Heritage Department.
Meanwhile, the Internet became a social platform for Bangaloreans to express anger against the government for not maintaining the city’s historical structure.