Karnataka

‘Heritage cess’ to care for Mysuru’s historic structures?

The Silver Jubilee Clock Tower was built in 1927 to mark the 25th anniversary of the coronation of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.

The Silver Jubilee Clock Tower was built in 1927 to mark the 25th anniversary of the coronation of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar.   | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

Authorities in Mysuru city, that boasts of 250 heritage structures and attracts a huge number of tourists annually, is toying with the idea of levying “heritage cess” to fund the restoration and conservation of the buildings.

Chronic lack of funds, and now COVID-19, has pushed conservation issues to the back burner and the historical structures — many of which are public offices or landmark structures over 100 years old and hence, require regular maintenance — are languishing in neglect.

The ongoing fight against the pandemic and the diversion of human and financial resources to curb its spread has left little time for authorities to focus on conservation. However, the Mysuru City Corporation is now contemplating introducing heritage cess and creating a separate corpus for maintenance of the historic buildings.

MCC Commissioner Gurudutt Hegde told The Hindu that the issue will be placed before the MCC Council and in the next meeting of the District Heritage Committee, to secure their approval. If approved, 2% or 3% cess will be levied along with entry tickets for the palace, Chamundi Hills and even parking lots, said Mr. Hegde.

N.S. Rangaraju, convener of INTACH-Mysuru, said the heritage structures lacked regular maintenance owing to paucity of funds.

Drawing attention to the Silver Jubilee Clock Tower which was constructed in 1927 to mark the 25th anniversary of the coronation of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, he said the foundation was being gnawed by rodents. Also, the inner portion of the clock tower had cracks and the plaster was peeling. These problems were identified almost five years ago but nothing has been done to restore the structure, said Mr. Rangaraju.

However, Mr. Hegde said the MCC will fund the restoration but it will be a long-drawn process as a thorough structural analysis was pending after which the Detailed Project Report had to be prepared and it would take three months.

In case of Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion at the Mansagangotri campus which houses the folklore museum, the situation was turning from bad to worse, according to Mr. Rangaraju. The 125 year-old Devaraja Market which is condemned for demolition is in limbo as the issue is pending before the High Court. Senior MCC officials said even if there was clearance from court, the government did not have funds at this point for constructing new markets and Devaraja Market reconstruction alone would cost around ₹90 crore.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 11:34:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/heritage-cess-to-care-for-mysurus-historic-structures/article32053635.ece

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