Reconstruction of iconic Mairie gets under way

An aerial view of pile foundation being laid for reconstruction of Marie building on the Beach promenade; pile foundation being laid.  

More than three years after Mairie, the iconic 19th century landmark collapsed in 2014 due to incessant rains the Project Implementation Agency (PIA) of the Puducherry Government has commenced the piling work on reconstructing the structure from its ruins. The work on the 102 piles has started on the Beach promenade.

“About 50% of the piles have been completed and they are being continuously tested to check if they can withstand the load. The basement level will be ready in another 15 days while the column walls of the structure are being developed. The new structure, including the pile foundation, will be modelled on the original using modern materials,” said a senior official of PIA.

The project with a financial assistance of ₹14.83 crore from the World Bank will have a multi-purpose hall with a corridor and the office of the Municipal Commissioner, Chairman and Executive Engineer on the ground floor. The first floor will include the office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths, Council and Committee section and a hall. The structure will be ready by January 2019, the official added.

Built in 1870-71, the building was an important landmark in the city. It formed a part of an ensemble of important structures such as the old lighthouse, Customs House and French consulate on the Goubert Avenue.

A symbol of power

Considered a symbol of French colonial power, the French named the premises ‘Town Hall’ (Hotel De Ville), which housed the office of the Mayor of the Puducherry Municipality, the Municipal Council, the Registry and other offices, including the office of Registrar of Births and Deaths.

“It was the biggest administrative building for 100 years and a symbolic landmark during the French regime. It was in this building that the first attempt at democracy for Puducherry was tried out during 1870-1900 long before the first general elections were held in British India,” according to Ashok Panda, co-convener, INTACH.

The building housed the Legislative Assembly of Puducherry for four years from 1964 (when the first general election was held in the wake of de jure transfer of power) before the Assembly was shifted to the present premises in 1969. It also provided facility for marriages and other public functions.

The eastern and western façade of the two-storied building featured arcaded entrance verandahs on high plinth accessed by a broad flight of steps in dressed granite.

The first floor had coloured galleries and a large ceremonial hall with wooden flooring, he said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 12:23:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/reconstruction-of-iconic-mairie-gets-under-way/article23639160.ece

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