Corporation engineers attribute delay to various factors, including Metro Rail work
The ongoing restoration work on Ripon Buildings appears to be way behind schedule. With the deadline for completion being the end of this month, only 55 per cent of the restoration work has been completed so far.
Chennai Corporation engineers attributed the delay to various factors, including the Metro Rail work. “We have been taking construction materials from other areas as Metro Rail work is under way. Transportation is possible only at night. Lime plastering also requires one-and-a-half months compared to a lesser period for cement,” said an engineer of the Chennai Corporation.
The restoration work is likely to be completed only in December. An expert team from IIT Madras has been reviewing the project and submitting reports to the Chennai Corporation on the progress of the work. A total of 17 reports have been submitted so far. The reports suggest measures, including those pertaining to architecture, workmanship and plastering with lime mortar. A team of 27 students, including civil engineering research scholars, visited the Ripon Buildings, on Saturday.
“The lime mortar with ‘kadukkai', jaggery and lime is being meticulously used to restore the building. Ripon Buildings will continue to demonstrate its Indo-Saracenic style of architecture even after 99 years of existence,” said K. Jayachandran, a civil engineering research scholar who was part of the team.
Monitoring agencies such as INTACH had insisted that only lime mortar be used for plastering to restore the uniqueness of the 99-year-old heritage building. Officials claim that water seepage across the building was a reason for peeling off of the lime plastering. Regulating the water flow and electric wiring is yet to be completed.
“Work on pointing and grouting is under way. Some of the old lime plastering had lost its binding quality. But new lime plastering also shows signs of crack,” said another IIT-Madras research scholar who was part of the team. Members of the team added that delay in renovation work could have been avoided with superior workmanship and better planning.
Other independent laboratories are also involved in monitoring of the materials and workmanship.
The Ripon Building, in its 99 year now, is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture with a combination of Gothic, Ionic and Corinthian styles. The Rs.7.7-crore renovation is being carried out under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission to conserve the original glory of the building, which was named after Lord Ripon.