Downtown

Scant regard for historic statue in George Town

In shambles: The statue, imbued with great history, does not find itself in the best of conditions. Photos: M. Karunakaran   | Photo Credit: M_Karunakaran

At 8 a.m., a woman is busy spreading washed clothes on the pedestal of the statue of King George V of England, which stands behind the Flower Bazaar police station on NSC Bose Road in Broadway. An hour later, a marketing executive in his late 20s, parks his bike at the packed illegal parking lot abutting the century-old statue. Meanwhile, a group of homeless people who have made the periphery of the statue their home are woken from their slumber by hawkers trying to sell fresh vegetables and fruits along NSC Bose Road.

With a public toilet having been encroached by a few slum dwellers, traders ease themselves in a place that’s not too far from the statue. Stray dogs loiter around this 1911-built statue.

Plants protruding from the cracked portions of the statue complete the picture of neglect.

Most parts of the statue including the pedestal have become weak, developing cracks at many places. Posters by various trading associations also find a place on the concrete pedestal. “The historic statue is completely neglected by the government authorities. It has neither been fenced, nor regularly maintained,” said a historian.

According to historians, it was in honour of King George V, who was crowned Emperor of India on June 22, 1911, the British officials built the 10-feet tall statue adjacent to one of the oldest police stations on China Bazaar Road, now called NSC Bose Road. Besides the King’s coronation, the statue also signified the newfound status of Black Town, as it was renamed George Town. “The statue has a lot of history in it. The neighbourhood got a new identity without any prejudices during British period itself. Such a landmark should be conserved,” said K. Vasanthan, a social activist from Broadway.

Historically, George Town — which was earlier called Black Town — was the original Madras where the natives of the city settled when officials of the East Indian Company led by Francis Day built Fort St. George in 1640 A.D. To demarcate the White Town, the Fort St. George where Britishers resided, officials of the East India Company termed the area occupied by the natives as Black Town.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 1:49:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/scant-regard-for-historic-statue-in-george-town/article6775068.ece

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