BANGALORE : All roads led to the iconic Balabrooie Guest House on Sunday morning. Bangaloreans campaigning to save the structure gathered in strength at the spot and succeeded in their mission: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced that the government had no plans to demolish the heritage structure and build a club house for legislators.
With the controversy laid to rest, the ‘Save Balabrooie Committee’ members demanded a new law that protects heritage buildings in the city. An eight-member delegation of the committee later met the CM, who assured them of protecting heritage structures and bringing in a suitable law to protect them.
The protesters also urged the state government to introduce the Heritage Preservation and Regulation Act in the next legislature session.
Stating that most other metropolitan cities have such a law, the protesters said that the state government was dilly-dallying over the issue.
“In fact, a draft copy of the legislation has already been prepared and is pending for the past four years. It should get its due approval immediately. A ‘Heritage Property Regulatory Commission’ must be set up, which must be headed by a commissioner with adjudicative powers. An audit of the remaining such structures in the city must be conducted and immediate steps must be taken in order to save them,” said architect V Naresh Narasimhan, a member of the Save Balabrooie Committee.
“In 2000, Bangalore was home to around 2,000 heritage buildings. This has now been reduced to a mere 400, mainly due to large-scale commercialisation,” he said.
“The CM assured us that the legislation would be passed. This has proved to be a huge victory for us. Awareness is also being created about the need for heritage structures,” said committee coordinator Sreenivas G Kappanna.
He termed the meeting with the CM “fruitful”, and said the public had won. “We are happy with his response and have decided to call off our agitation. He explained to us that there was no government order to raze the structure,” Kappanna said, adding that in case heritage buildings in the city are threatened in future, similar protests will be held.
Narasimhan told Express, “He (Siddaramaiah) told us that neither the building would be demolished nor the trees would be cut. In short, there will be no change to the structure’s profile.”
Before meeting the CM, the delegation also met Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa. Artist and committee member S G Vasudev told Express, “The Speaker said that a few months ago, some legislators had approached the CM asking for a club house to be built on the Balabrooie premises, to which the CM had agreed ‘casually’. However, he assured us that there was no specific order in this regard.”