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Preservation of heritage buildings

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The demolition of  the house of renowned novelist R K Narayan which began here on Monday to make way for an apartment  complex came to a halt with the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) proposing to conserve it as a heritage monument. The MCC will initiate further action; until then, it has ordered suspension of all work.

Sources told Express that a show-cause notice had been issued to MCC Assistant Commissioner Thimmappa for allowing the demolition.

It is also said that the MCC has requested the Urban Development Department to allow it to collect heritage cess to preserve all heritage buildings in the city, and demanded a direction to the Department of Heritage to identify such buildings.

The Dy Commissioner, Mr Raykar, told Express that R K Narayan’s house had not been declared a heritage monument, and he had requested the Heritage Commissioner to mark all heritage buildings in the city to prevent builders from buying and demolishing them. There are no other provision in the law to preserve heritage buildings, Raykar added.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Now, if a city wants to preserve a building for its heritage value, it needs to buy the same form the owners, rather than expecting the owners to preserve it for the benefit of the city. And, if a city like Mysore is to raise the resources for acquiring such properties, it will have to be at the cost of carrying on even day to day maintenance operations, leave alone developmental activities, since every other building in the city can be considered a heritage building. In such a scenario, the city has necessarily to be extremely choosy as to what all it wants to acquire. And, when looked at things that way, I don't think Mr R K Narayan's old house will meet the bill. The simplest thing would be to name the road in front of the house (or the nearest road junction) after him, and leave things at that.

Whatever, I can't see the logic behind the serving of the show-cause notice on the AC.

Muralidhar Rao

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