The much-talked-about renovation and restoration of the Devaraja Market in Mysore, which is a lively market area, has been put on the backburner for some reason for some years now. The market is in fact part of Mysore’s heritage. It is oriented along the Sayyajirao Road close to the K.R. Circle and has several entrances. The Mysore City Corporation (MCC), custodian of the market, had taken a decision in the past to renovate the more-than-a-century-old market building.

At a meeting of important personalities of Mysore and the members of the Mysore Agenda Task Force a few years ago, it was decided that renovation would be undertaken without damaging the external architecture of the building. The overall proposal was estimated at Rs. 1 crore.

Heritage panel

Renovations were needed as the heritage building was slowly deteriorating and facing a number of problems with growing pressure on it. The roofs of some shops had collapsed in rain some seven years ago but fortunately there was no casualty. The State Government had formed a Heritage Expert Committee in 2005 to pursue the issue. Torsteel Foundation from Bangalore was invited as consultants by MCC to inspect the building and submit an engineering assessment.

Subsequently, the MCC announced in November 2005 that Devaraja Market would be demolished and reconstructed and served notice to the occupants to vacate. This resulted in protests by the Traders’ Association, which had stated that it wanted alternative accommodation given to the traders while the work is in progress.

The Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) had stated than that choice was clearly between repair-Rehabilitation of the existing structure and demolition-reconstruction of the entire structure. Chandraprakash of the MGP told The Hindu that whether repair-rehabilitation or demolition-reconstruction is opted for, the building façade must remain unchanged with a view to preserve the heritage value.

Many changes

He stated that the business premises were allotted to various traders many years ago, and some of the rents being received by MCC were very low. Traders who were occupying the shops were not the original allottees. Several shops have been sold to others. There has been change of khatha in some cases, but in many, the khathas have not been transferred. Several shops have been sub-let for higher rents.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) had offered assistance to renovate and restore the old Devaraja Market and surrounding areas last year. A meeting was held between the MCC and heritage representatives from UNESCO and Rathi Vinay Jha, Chairperson of the Indian Heritage City Network (IHCN) which had decided to go ahead with the restoration and conservation of Devaraja Market and its precincts. Nothing has progressed afterwards.

A MoU was also signed between UNESCO and different stakeholders, including the State Government, the State Heritage Department and the MCC.

The MCC Commissioner, M.R. Ravi, said that he would convene a meeting of the traders soon to thrash out certain immediate problems such as electricity and water supply and the like. The issue of restoration works would have to be addressed next. It may be recalled that a fire had gutted several shops in the market last year and the MCC had paid compensation to the affected persons.

K. Jeevan Chinnappa

What has happened to the much talked about restoration of Devaraja Market?