The collapse of the City Light Hotel in Secunderabad recently, wherein 18 persons lost their lives, is all set to change the face of Visakhapatnam with the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) authorities deciding to demolish several old landmark buildings in the city.
Soon after the Secunderabad incident, the GVMC Town Planning wing deployed its personnel for a physical verification and, based on the appearance and use of the buildings, identified nearly 450 buildings -- including several 100-year-old landmark buildings - as being fit for demolition. The officials themselves admit that this number could go up further as several buildings in the core area of the city and in some of areas on the outskirts were built during the British era.
Nearly 75 per cent of these buildings are in Zone-III areas of GVMC like Kurupam Market, Poorna Market, Maharanipeta, Jalaripeta, Port Area and Kotaveedhi. The civic body pulled down three buildings, including one of its own, on Friday in Zone III, IV and V. Some of the landmark buildings that require demolition are said to be the Collectorate building at Maharanipeta, Andhra Medical College’s doctors’ quarters, Queen Mary’s Government High School for Girls, Kurupam Market Complex, Old Municipal Hall in the Old City and also the Andhra University Hostel for Women on the Beach Road.
However, the GVMC is yet to take the inputs of engineering experts to move further on the rest of the buildings, many of which have historical background. .
GVMC Commissioner M V Satyanarayana, who inspected some of these buildings recently, told Express that the corporation would contact the departments concerned and ensure that those which posed threat, would be razed down at the earliest. The officials are expected to complete the identification of old structures by Wednesday.
The commissioner later asserted that all buildings would be inspected for structural stability and depending on the reports of engineers, notices would be issued to owners asking them to demolish the buildings within a stipulated time. If the owners failed to comply with the order, the Town Planning wing would take up the demolition and collect the cost from the respective owners.
“Precautions will be taken to ensure that while demolishing the old buildings so that the owners/occupants and those of neighbouring houses do not face any problems and no legal aspects arise,” Satyanarayana said.
The commissioner and his colleagues are learnt to be of the opinion that there is no point in preserving a building if it poses a threat to the inmates and others. However, heritage activists see red and point out that demolition is not the solution to the problem as old buildings give a clear picture of the history of Vizag city to future generations.