SAMBALPUR: Renovation work of the century-old Veer Surendra Sai Town Hall, popularly known as Victoria Hall, has been delayed by nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is executing the work at an estimated cost of Rs 1.24 crore. It had set a target to complete renovation of the heritage building by end of this year.
Director of INTACH, Bhubaneswar Centre Mallika Mitra said, "Though we had planned to complete the renovation by 2020, it was affected due to the pandemic. However, work has resumed post-lockdown. Some components of civil restoration work are still going on. Then we will move to the interior work and develop the interpretation centre for Western Odisha tourism. The renovation will be completed by June next year."
The historic building was in a dilapidated condition when the revamp work began in May, 2017. While the building's roof was leaking from various places, the walls were in a pathetic condition. The entire structure was covered by wild vegetation and even plaster was peeling off from the outer wall.
Last year, the Sambalpur district administration had announced that a museum would be developed with support of INTACH in the Victoria Hall where customs, traditions and history of the region will be showcased.
Following the laying of its foundation stone in 1902, the heritage building was inaugurated by then Chief Commissioner of the Central Province JP Hewety in 1904. The British government, kings, landlords and businessmen of the region had contributed funds for construction of the building. It was initially christened as Victoria Hall but later renamed as VSS Town Hall after Independence.
The Zilla School, Women’s College and Trust Fund College, which is now Netaji Subash Chandra Bose College, once operated from this building which also housed the district library, office of the Sambalpur Development Authority and the district culture office.