Government Gives in to Public Demand, Says Yes to Restoring Karanth's House
PUTTUR: We have heard of the houses of Leo Tolstoy in Russia, Rashtrakavi Kuvempu in Shimoga, Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon and Gangubai Hangal in Dharwad being restored to mint condition to save them for posterity.
Now, the Karnataka government has decided to do the same with the house of Jnanpith awardee Dr Kota Shivaram Karanth at Puttur, about 50 km from Mangalore.
The plan for restoration and the estimated cost had been submitted by the Heritage Buildings and Museums division of the Department of Archeology to the Ministry of Culture.
C G Betsurmath, commissioner of the department said, “We have estimated that Dr Karanth’s home could be totally restored to its pristine condition with `29 lakh and under a decent time limit of not more than six months.” He said the department’s technical committee has already inspected the structure and has reported that it needs ‘total restoration’. The government has already released `30 lakh for the works.
The committee’s observations have been conveyed to Culture Minister Umashree and the commissioner of the Culture Department.
A committee of conservationists, led by Karanth’s daughter Kshama Rao, was in favour of the Indian National Trust for Culture and Heritage (INTACH) taking up the restoration work as it has ample experience in the field. “However, we are happy that the government has taken a conscious decision to restore the building and not demolish it and build a concrete monstrosity in its place,” Kshama told Express.
The local Bal Bhavan committee, under the assistant commissioner, is entrusted with developing the house.
It had previously decided to build a concrete structure at the spot, but this was opposed by the townspeople.
“The building could not have been saved but for one of the most significant people’s movements in conservation that has ever happened in Puttur, if not in Dakshina Kannada district,” said Amrut Malla, a local conservation activist. He said the house was built in 1930 under the direct supervision of Dr Karanth and has stood for 74 years; Karanth lived there for 40 years.
Archeology Department Commissioner Betsurmath told Express, “We do have the required expertise and experience in total restoration of heritage buildings; we had done an excellent job on the restoration of the house of Roerich and that of Gangubai Hanagal in Dharwad. So it occurred to us that Dr Karanth’s house too could be restored to its pristine condition without compromising on the strength of the structure or its aesthetics.”
Satyaprakash Varanashi, a Bangalore-based INTACH activist, has also chipped in by saying that if the government takes up the restoration work based on INTACH’s plan, it would cost less than `25 lakh.