The Fort High School in Chamarajpet, built in 1907, has lain dilapidated for years. Its alumni include freedom fighter H S Doresamy, cricketer G R Vishwanath, and even the former King of Mysore Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar. Sometime back, authorities even “repaired” the school in places with vitrified tiles, completely ignoring its importance as a heritage structure.
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Last year, the non-profit INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) took up a project to restore the building to its original state. It took about eight years for INTACH to document the building, get permission from DPI (Department of Public Instruction) to restore the building, and get a donation of Rs 2.4 cr for the works.
The school building, made entirely of brick and limewater, is being restored by a team from Jharkhand, with the same materials and techniques used originally. The work will be completed in five months.
In this conversation with Citizens Live, Pankaj Modi, Conservation Architect with INTACH, talks about the project, what counts as heritage, and why it is difficult to conserve. Natural spaces, built areas, traditions can all be heritage, but the government criteria for heritage includes only palaces, forts etc. Hence heritage structures, often maintained by the PWD (Public Works Department), get demolished or repaired, says Modi.
Of 800 heritage buildings INTACH had identified in Bengaluru in the 1980s, only around half remain now. Modi suggests that PWD should have a specialised cell to manage heritage buildings. However, ultimately it is citizens who should ensure that these buildings are preserved, he says.
Watch the interview for more: