Opposition raised to Constitution Club proposed at Balabrooie

File photo of Balabrooie, which was built in the late 1850s by John Garett, who came to the city as a Wesleyan missionary  

The State Government’s decision to have a Constitution Club at Balabrooie Guest House on Palace Road, close to the Vidhana Soudha, has irked activists and heritage conservationists in the city.

On Monday, Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri made the announcement, rekindling opposition to it. This is not the first time that the government has proposed setting up a Constitution Club, on the lines of Delhi’s Constitution Club, for legislators.

According to a spokesperson of Heritage Beku, a citizens’ group that has been demanding conservation of all heritage buildings and structures in the city, Balabrooie is one of the most important heritage buildings in the city. “It has been a silent witness to good and old times… it was the epicentre during the plague pandemic and more recently after the outbreak of COVID-19 when the war room was established there,” the spokesperson said, underscoring the need to conserve the building.

Heritage Beku has written to the State Government expressing its “dismay and shock” at the sudden revival of the proposal. In the letter, dated September 22, it has noted that initially the club was proposed near Cauvery on Kumara Krupa Road. The government has been urged to safeguard the city’s heritage and reconsider the decision to establish the club at Balabrooie.

Meera Iyer, from INTACH, pointed out that the heritage building was constructed in the late 1850s by John Garett, who came to the city in 1839 as a Wesleyan missionary. He also started the Central High School, which later became Central College.

In an article published in The Hindu in 2019, she pointed out that after Garett’s death in 1893, his son-in-law Benjamin Lewis Rice, a historian and epigraphist, sold it to the Mysore Government in 1897. Balabrooie has hosted several eminent personalities since, including Dewans of Mysore and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Ms. Iyer told The Hindu it was unclear what was being proposed. The Speaker has claimed that the building won’t be touched. “It seems a little improbable that the club will be established without modifying the building and gardens. To provide facilities for the club, some inharmonious changes would be required,” she said.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 5:17:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/opposition-raised-to-constitution-club-proposed-at-balabrooie/article36849008.ece

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