BBMP stops accepting bookings beyond December 31 ahead of makeover

Poor ventilation, broken seats, dingy interiors and a badly maintained stage. These are just a few of the inconveniences people who organise events at the Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall on J.C. Road have to overlook. One of the city’s iconic landmarks, the Town Hall will close on January 1 for a long overdue renovation.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which owns and maintains the building, has stopped accepting bookings beyond December 31, 2012.

According to sources, the tender process has already begun. “We need to stop bookings at least three months before the renovation is taken up. As the tenders are likely to be floated soon, we decided to not accept bookings from January 1.”

Earlier fiasco

In fact, the BBMP did float tenders to change the worn out seats at a cost of Rs. 20 lakh around three years ago. Though the work order was issued around two years ago, nothing happened. “The company awarded the tender wanted more money as the price of steel increased. The BBMP could not give the extra money and the work was not taken up at all,” an official said.

Later, the councillors wanted a makeover for the entire building and not just a change of seats. “The plan for comprehensive renovation is being drawn up. It will include lighting, interiors, seating, stage and air conditioning.”

INTACH ready to help

Satya Prakash Varanashi, convener of Bangalore chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, said BBMP had earlier consulted INTACH in this regard.

“INTACH is willing to join hands with the BBMP provided the renovation is taken up sensitively and in adherence to the norms of heritage conservation and restoration.”

He said BBMP must not just look at renovating the brick and mortar structure but must also work towards restoring the Town Hall’s legacy.

“The Town Hall is not just a performance hall: not all cities have one. Hence, the civic authority must try to restore the legacy of the iconic structure.”

Some suggestions

There are suggestions that the Town Hall, along with a host of other iconic and heritage buildings in the city, must be handed over to the Heritage Commissioner, Department of Kannada and Culture.

“The BBMP is neither equipped nor capable of handling such structures. These buildings must be handed over to a department that is sensitive towards conservation of heritage,” a source said.

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