Exercise on to identify historical structures badly in need of repair

Humayun Mahal in Chepauk will be the first to be taken up for restoration

March 07, 2019 01:18 am | Updated 01:18 am IST - CHENNAI

To restore historic structures to their original glory, the Public Works Department has started assessment of the condition of heritage buildings across the State.

A team of officials from the Building Centre and Conservation Division (BCCD), has so far assessed 20 buildings, such as courts, schools and registration offices in various districts, including Chennai.

The wing was created a few years ago to preserve heritage structures. Humayun Mahal, which is part of a cluster of heritage structures in Chepauk Palace, will be the first to be taken up for restoration efforts among the buildings identified by the BCCD. Preliminary work is on to renovate the dilapidated building, which suffered severe damage and has not been in use since 2013.

The PWD is also preparing estimates to renovate heritage structures in the city. “We are planning to renovate the roof of the Connemara library. This is a challenging work as it needs skilled labourers. This comes after a gap of 13 years,” the official said.

The long-discussed work to restore the L-shaped building in the Government Central Press, Mint, which has been left neglected for two decades, will also be taken up this year. Officials said the historic tower clock building in Madras University and its roof will also be repaired. Chennai, particularly Kamarajar Salai, is home to many such Indo-Saracenic style buildings.

‘Collating data’

In other districts, the PWD officials said a few of the heritage structures are still in use. “We are collating data and preparing project reports to renovate some of them,” said an official.

“We have also submitted a ₹8.5 crore proposal to renovate ‘Kuthirai Vandi Court’ in Coimbatore, which is in decrepit state. It stopped functioning as a labour court 15 years ago. Constructed in 1863, the munsif court had levied a fine on drivers of horse carts for violations of rules in British period and was popularly called ‘Kuthirai Vandi Court’. The project is awaiting the government’s nod,” said an official.

There is also a plan to renovate Governor Bungalow, another heritage building constructed in 1860 in Coimbatore, located along Tiruchi Road, and convert it into a museum.

While it takes efforts to restore old structures, the PWD is also engaged in consultancy work for other government agencies. The Tourism Department had sought expertise of the PWD officials to renovate heritage buildings in the State. Some of the projects include Alamparai Fort on East Coast Road, Manora Fort in Thanjavur and structures in Gangaikondacholapuram.

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