ICHR to seek alternative space for southern regional centre

When the Namma Metro construction work tunnels underground at the Mysore Bank Circle, there is one stately heritage structure, a century old no less, that may succumb to the upheaval of excavation. This is the premises of the old law college of Bangalore University on Palace Road, the first floor of which was leased in 1998 to the Indian Council of Historical Research to house its southern regional centre.

“Not only are we bursting at the seams in this space, but with the Metro going under us, we fear the old building may get further damaged,” said Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Chairman of the ICHR.

The ICHR has already spent nearly Rs. 50 lakh in renovating the space they are currently occupying. The southern regional centre has a library of 18,000 books and 1,500 maps that include rare topo sheets. Even now, cracks have appeared in the building, and the occasional falling brick startles the unsuspecting occupant of the room with a high ceiling.

“At a meeting of the southern regional advisory committee on Tuesday we discussed the matter, and resolved to seek alternative space for the centre,” Prof. Bhattacharya said.

Amongst the options discussed was to ask the Bangalore University if space could be provided in the adjacent building, an extension building belonging to the old law college that is currently unoccupied except for the top floor which serves as a Ladies Hostel. However, with the likely bifurcation of the Bangalore University, it is possible that the extension building would be put to more pressing academic use.

Another suggestion was to request the State Government for land in the Hebbal campus of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore.

Under the terms of the lease agreement, the ICHR must underwrite the costs of repair of the centre which occupies 3,000 sq. ft. This would be worth the cost and effort if the ICHR is certain that the building will withstand the stress of the soon-to-be-started underground excavation, if the building will remain stable despite the pressures generated by constant track movement once the metro commences services.

Although engineers from the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. have inspected the building, there is no information from them on what they propose to do in respect of the building. In most cities, however, the underground metro passes under structures, heritage and otherwise, with no damage to the buildings above.

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