Govt. paves way for restoration of heritage structure gutted in 2012

Eighteen months after the 18 century Kalas Mahal was gutted, the State government has sanctioned Rs. 14.5 crore for restoration of the heritage structure.

An order to this effect was issued last week. The cost may seem to be on the higher side but it is the nature of work that is critical to the cost, an official of the Public Works Department (PWD) said.

Shortly, the PWD will float bids, inviting proposals from those agencies that have carried out restoration projects. The Department has planned to award a contract by the end of August, said another official.

Built by the eighth Nawab of the Carnatic Muhammad Ali Wallajah (1749-1795) in 1768, Kalas Mahal and Humayun Mahal form part of the Chepauk Palace, the official residence of Nawabs till 1855, according to a website on the Prince of Arcot.

Kalas Mahal is classified as a grade-I heritage building in the Justice E. Padmanabhan committee report. Its restoration would be carried out as per detailed drawings provided by a firm belonging to conservation architect Ravi Gundu Rao.

The official expects good response to the tender as many restoration and conservation projects have been carried out in the State.

For instance, Ripon Buildings, the headquarters of the Chennai Corporation, is undergoing restoration. Apart from a heritage sub-committee in the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), conservation expert K.T. Narasimhan will be involved in the supervision of the project, the PWD official said.

The Kalas Mahal restoration is expected to facilitate the execution of several other such projects. The heritage sub-committee includes CMDA’s chief urban planner and the dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.

After a fire ravaged the heritage structure in January 2012, the State government constituted a three-member committee to assess the structural stability of the building. The committee had recommended restoration of the structure and other such buildings.

Later, the PWD floated a tender and chose a consultant — Ravi Gundu Rao — for the preparation of detailed drawings and estimates for Kalas Mahal. It was after the scrutiny of the scheme prepared by the consultant that the government came out with the recent order.

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