This is not the only instance of the old structure facing threat from neglect and natural causes

The history of the 162-year-old Government Madrasa-i-Azam Higher Secondary School on Anna Salai, near the Spencer's junction, seems to be slowly fading with the recent rains playing havoc on the structure.

The heavy showers brought down the roof of the rear side of the building, which once housed the physical training department of the school. As the incident happened early in the morning, no one was around. But, the dilapidated state of the building is causing concern for the school authorities and parents.

This is not the only instance of this old structure facing threat owing to neglect and natural causes. Four years ago, a roof of one of the classrooms on the front portion of the building had collapsed. Six months ago, another portion fell down. Over the last five years, none of the classrooms in this building has been used. Students occupy the building adjacent to this dilapidated structure, but members of the Parent Teacher Association say it still is a cause for concern.

“We want this heritage building to be barricaded or you would never know when any other portion of the school collapse,” says Hakim Syed M.M. Ameen, treasurer and co-ordinator of PTA. Members say the dilapidated state of the building is also the reason why the school is losing its sheen among parents who are not keen on admitting their children. “Last year, we conducted a special drive to increase the enrolment of children. Nearly 1,000 applications were sold and 800 enrolled but in a few weeks many left as parents found it unsafe,” says Mr. Ameen. The school is one of the oldest government schools in the city and currently has a strength of 240 students, studying in classes VI to XII, and offers Urdu and English medium of instruction.

The campus spread across five acres and the building was gifted for imparting Urdu, Arabic and Persian education by the ancestors of Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali. Now, the PTA wants the school to be a government-aided school. “We do not want the land but let it be a management-run school under the Prince of Arcot,” adds Mr. Ameen. It has a distinguished list of alumni and with its help plans to raise funds to upkeep the building.

According to K. Kalpana, conservation architect, no building is beyond repair and whether one takes up restoration work depends on factors such as heritage and economic value of the building. “A building can become structurally unsafe either if it has inherent structural problems or due to negligence,” she adds.

P. Swaminathan, former dean, Department of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, says building materials do deteriorate over a period. Some can be repaired, while some need to be pulled down.

“The strength of any such building over 100 years has to be assessed and precautions be taken accordingly,” says Mr. Swaminathan.


Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012