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Insensitivity towards heritage buildings

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A CASE IN POINT: Kempe Gowda Tower in Bangalore.
A CASE IN POINT: Kempe Gowda Tower in Bangalore.

Swathi Shivanand

Preserving the original character of the buildings a must

BANGALORE: For all the heritage buildings that are lost because their owners have sold them, there are an equal number, if not more, losing their original character because the government departments that own them have taken up “restoration work”.

Even as the World Heritage Week is observed from November 19 to November 25 to spread awareness against defacing and vandalising monuments, lack of rules and concern among the bureaucracy for proper conservation has meant that most have been ruined for posterity.

‘Culprits’

“The Muzrai and the Public Works Departments, which own many buildings between them, are the main culprits. So is the State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums which is not aware of many construction works in buildings that it claims to own. None of them have any sense of how to restore the buildings without destroying the details,” H.R. Prathibha of Indian National Trust for Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a not-for-profit conservation organisation, told The Hindu.

Training

In many places, including the Kadu Malleshwara Temple in Malleswaram, the Kempe Gowda Tower at Mehkri Circle and Kote Venkatramanaswamy Temple in K.R. Market, the motifs and materials of the past have given way to colourful tiles and granite flooring, she said.

Apart from sensitising the public, even engineers and those involved in restoration work should be trained on how to retain the original character of the buildings, she said.

Heritage law

However, with heritage not having attained the status of an urgent issue, any efforts towards framing regulations are received with disinterest. For instance, the draft heritage law “is still pending with the Government”, according to Venkatesh A. Machakanur, Commissioner, Archaeology, Museums and Heritage. “Without a regulatory body or framework, nothing can be done about preserving monuments,” he said.

Setting up a heritage conservation committee and grading buildings and precincts into categories based on their importance and architecture are some of the important provisions in the draft law.

Initiatives

As of now, six heritage clubs in schools and colleges have been started in as many districts and more are in the pipeline, Mr. Machakanur said. “This is an important step in spreading awareness about protecting monuments. Members of the heritage clubs will travel to other educational institutions and spread the message there,” he said.

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