Rs 56 lakh sanctioned for renovation of Queen Mary’s High School

Rs 56 lakh sanctioned for renovation of Queen Mary’s High School.
The Queen Mary’s High School in One Town of Visakhapatnam was started  in 1913 | Express
The Queen Mary’s High School in One Town of Visakhapatnam was started in 1913 | Express

VISAKHAPATNAM: The century-old Queen Mary’s High School in the One Town area, one of the heritage structures of the city, is all set to regain its past glory, with the authorities sanctioning `56 lakh for its renovation. The tenders for the project are being called for.

A report published in these columns on October 13, 2016 (Two years on, Queen Mary’s School yet to recover Hudhud shock) brought to light the dilapidated condition of the school after it was struck by the cyclone in 2014.

Responding to it, on October 24, 2016, collector Pravin Kumar, along with GVMC engineers, members of Indian National Trust of Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH - Vizag chapter) visited the premises and took stock of the situation.

The 100-year-old school is running from a 250-year-old building which was used an armoury of the East India Company, before being made the Collector’s Office in 1873.

Damaged wooden stools dumped in a classroom at Queen Mary’s High School after they were damaged during Hudhud cyclone | Express 
Damaged wooden stools dumped in a classroom at Queen Mary’s High School after they were damaged during Hudhud cyclone | Express 

It was in 1913, Queen Mary’s High School was started as an exclusive school for child widows.  The two-storeyed heritage structure still stands tall even after the devastating blow of Hudhud cyclone.

INTAC members and school authorities have been repeatedly requesting the officials to take up the renovation to conserve the heritage structure. But, the promises to restore the building remained just a talk. 

“A fund of `56 lakh has been sanctioned for the renovation of the building and the project files are on the move,” said GVMC commissioner M Hari Narayanan after visiting the school on the World Heritage Day on Tuesday. 

Even before the Hudhud had struck Visakhapatnam, the second floor of the building was closed after tiles from the roof fell in the classroom in 2011. 
Though it was difficult to accommodate the students whose classes were conducted in six rooms on the second floor in another building, the school management managed somehow as they did not want to take any risk. 

In 2014-15, the school management was planning restoration works, when Hudhud struck the building hard. The first floor suffered heavy damage and the water started leaking through wood panels and the beams infested with white ants.

Damage report along with need for restoration and estimation of cost was submitted to the school authorities by Nitin Ranveer Sinha, conservation architect, Council of Architecture (CoA). In turn, the school requested the district authorities and stressed the importance on protecting the building time and again, but in vain.

It was in July last year when a slab of an old building near the school fell down, following which a notice was served to the school management along with owners of other old buildings in the area.  
On July 27, 2016, the Old Town zonal commissioner of GVMC had issued a notice under Section-456 of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act, that the existing building of the school was in a very dangerous condition.

After the notice, the building got barred for the students and teachers and in following days it become one big dumping yard. 

The school authorities were worried that the age-old building might be brought down not before long, but solace came in form of MLA V Ganesh Kumar, who promised that the building would not be demolished, but restored soon.

Thereafter, INTACH members explaining the historical importance of the building and submitted an estimation report for its restoration  to the district authorities. When the entire story was reported in Express, the collector visited the place, followed by an expert from Hyderabad.

“The administrative sanction for the building was given by the GVMC a few days ago and we are happy for that. Now, we are awaiting the approval of the cost estimation given by the engineer,” said Sohan Hatangadi, a conservationist and a member of INTACH.

“It has to be ensured that water does not leak and hence works must be taken up accordingly. The louvred door and windows, tiled roof, staircases are a few that need to be repaired and renovated,” he added.

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