Conservationists can heave a sigh of relief. The government has decided to rope in experts of the Indian National Trust for Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the ongoing restoration of the more than 150-year-old Horticulture Director’s residence. The government has in the past faced severe criticism for not following conservation principles.
While INTACH had been involved in the planning stage of the restoration of the building, built in 1856, in the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, the Horticulture Department had not involved the trust in the tendering and execution process, causing anxiety among the conservationists.
They had said international principles of conservation had been given a go-by in the restoration work. The trust had been kept away from restoration despite a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the government. The Hindu had also highlighted the matter in its issue on March 21.
“INTACH will be the consultant, advising the government on the restoration work. The work will commence shortly,” confirmed sources aware of the latest development. Accordingly, while the work plan is being laid out to draw up the schedule, initial work would be taken up on restoration of the roof.
Though the initial cost of conservation is estimated to be around Rs. 40 lakh, the cost could vary, sources said. “The cost will be known only after we start working,” he added.
The building, which was built to serve as the residence of the Superintendent of Lalbagh, currently houses the horticulture library.
The building has a verandah and roof styles that include the jack arch, Madras terrace and a sloping roof with Mangalore tiles.
Though the building, built in brick and mortar, has been restored twice in the past — in 1908 and 1988 — restoration has become imperative after a portion of the roof started leaking, damaging both the structure and some of the rare books that had been stored.
“Getting materials for restoration in Bangalore is not a problem,” said a source in INTACH.
Confirming the development, the INTACH Bangalore chapter convener Sathyaprakash Varanashi felt it was important to have a partnership between experts, government and people passionate about heritage.
“It (Director’s residence) is a positive move in conservation of heritage in Bangalore,” he added.