PUDUCHERRY: Ajit Koujalgi, chief architect and co-convenor of INTACH ( Indian National Trust for Architecture, Culture and Heritage), passed away on Sunday at a private hospital in Chennai. His death was condoled by Lieutenant Governor Ajay Kumar Singh.
His contribution to heritage conservation is noteworthy and recognised by UNESCOs. “With his demise, Puducherry has lost one its eminent architects,” he said.
Koujalgi (66) had sustained injuries from a fall from the terrace of his residence while exercising and succumbed to injuries a week or so later.
After initial treatment in the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, he was taken to Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, where he passed away.
He is survived by wife Ratna, also an architect. The funeral is scheduled to take place at Auroville on Tuesday.
For over 15 years, Ajit had been involved in heritage conservation efforts in Puducherry at a time when old buildings were being demolished.
It was his efforts that had saved several buildings and with courage and conviction, he had convinced the government and the people from razing down heritage structures, said Ashok Panda, co-convenor of INTACH.
“Ajit’s untimely death is an irreplaceable loss to INTACH and Puducherry. He was an inspiration to all of us, his courage and conviction was unmatched. A deep loss to INTACH and to me personally. Working at INTACH will never be the same again. We will always miss him. But the battle to save his dream will go on,” said Ashok.
A survey taken up by INTACH had put the number of heritage structures at 1,800 and of them, 600 had been demolished.
A remarkable one was that of the Asia Urbs Programme funded by the European Commission. It was in association with the authorities of Urbino (Italy) and Villeneuve-sur-Lot (France) and the Puducherry government (Municipalities), which witnessed a model restoration of heritage to improve the quality of life in the old city. This was done through heritage conservation in 2004. It can be visualised at Vysial Street.