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Balabrooie brew

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"There is no proposal to demolish or alter Balabrooie. The discussion to have a legislators' club on the lines of the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi has been going on for 10 years. The government has not taken any decision yet on where to have it,'' Siddaramaiah told STOI.  
 
- - - Meanwhile, sources in the department of archaeology, museums and heritage (AMH) said Balabrooie, despite being a 150-year-old structure, is not listed as a heritage site. "As many as 772 monuments in Karnataka come under AMH, not Balabrooie. Hence, it is vulnerable. If it has to get the tag, the government has to notify it and call for objections from the public,'' they added. 
 
Former law minister S Suresh Kumar told reporters that 257 legislators had paid Rs 10,000 each to get enrolled as members of the proposed club. "At that point in time (when the BJP held office), we never thought the possibility of the structure being demolished would arise. In the background of the public outcry, the government should consider their request.'' 
 
For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here.
 
I was at the silent demo in front of Balbrooie this morning. With the rains subsiding, there was a sizable crowd of largely Civil Society activists, including from B-PAC.
A small group led by Naresh Narasihman apparently met the Assembly Speaker Sri Kagodu Thimmappa, who is supposed to have told them that though the CM had orally agreed to convert the premises into a club (legislators' club on the lines of the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi), now that the Civil Society was up in arms, perhaps the matter has to be reviewed. 
 
All in all, though the existing buildings may remain protected, there's as yet no ruling out the place being converted into a club, with the attendant damage to the trees, apart from the heritage sanctity. 
 
We in Praja-RAAG have been considering going for a PIL. The talk evolved along the following lines:
 
An involved member suggested as below:
We have to approach this from a larger perspective, that is (a) environment (b) heritage and test the right of State to use any property owned by it in a manner not in the larger interest of public. The properties we have to take ( which have been on a cloud due to State action), are (just ex.)
1. Turf Club
2. Jakkur 
3. Any other place
4. Nandi Hills
5. Cubbon Park
6. Lalbagh
7. Ravindra Kalakshetra
8. Library in Cubbon Park
 
We have to seek directions from HC (until a policy is in place by State) as to how such lands need to be used in public interest and safeguards . If we approach it in a narrow perspective, the HC may say that it is State property and right to use. Lets start by getting a list of properties , we think are important that define the city and WE NEED TO GET A COPY OF THE ORDER OF THE STATE RE THE GUESTHOUSE. WHAT IS ITS HISTORY AND HOW IS IT RELEVANT TO THE CITIZENS?
 
I added as below: 
Yes, I feel this is the right approach. I had started a blog along these lines a few years back - it's linked below:
 
The matter has to have city wide scope, and not just limited to Balabrooie.
 
I gave an interview to TimesTV, and Mr Manu Aiyappa of ToI, too.
 
The question that arises is now that both the CM and the Speaker are looking at reviewing the matter, and are perhaps prepared for a dialogue, can we possibly work jointly to set up a body, say like the New York Design Trust, referred to by Namma renowned architect, Sri Prem Chandavarkar, once earlier when a similar issue came up (check debate linked above), to cover all such existing and future public properties and spaces?
 
Muralidhar Rao
 

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murali772's picture

talk thereafter

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Following is the text of the Press Release titled "CM assures citizens that Balabrooie will not be demolished" issued by the "SaveBalabrooie" committee:
 
More than 150 citizens of Bengaluru assembled outside the Balabrooie Guest House on Palace Cross Road today, braving the morning downpour, to demonstrate their determination to ensure that what is left of the city’s heritage is not destroyed.  
 
Holding placards with photographs of eminent personalities who are part of Balabrooie’s history and slogans such as “Bangalore needs the past for the future,” a wide range of Bangaloreans, including octogenarians and children, trooped into the compound and the building to see for themselves what is at stake if the government goes ahead with reported plans to convert the property into a club for legislators.  
 
Members of the Save Balabroie Committee met both Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa today to hand over petitions urging them to reconsider any plans for the demolition of this important heritage building and make sure that the city’s heritage and the well-being of its residents are safeguarded.  
 
Mr. Siddaramaiah assured committee members that  there is no plan to demolish the building,  cut trees or change the appearance of the building.  
 
Both he and Mr. Thimmappa confirmed that there is a decade-old proposal  to create a Constitution Club for legislators at Balabrooie.  However, the CM said no final decision has been taken in this regard. 
 
Committee members requested the CM to ensure that Ballabrooie is not used for a Club, suggesting instead that it be made available for  a museum or cultural centre that would serve a public purpose and become a valuable public asset that would benefit all citizens.   
 
Committee members also highlighted the need for urgent action on the long-pending Bengaluru Heritage Preservation and Regulation Bill, the draft of which is already ready with the government.  They asked the CM to ensure that it is introduced and passed in the Legislative Assembly during the next session.  In addition, they pointed out that the the Urban Arts Commission needs to be reconstituted. 
 
The CM has agreed to look into these matters. 
 
Simultaneously, however, the following comments by certain knowledgeable citizens, shows the matter calls for close vigilance. 
 
KC1: They'll get it. They don't care for our votes. Just imagine them letting go such prime land in the heart of the city. Only a High Court order can save it. This has the support of all the political parties - they are united in this cause.
 
KC2: The back-tracking has come because of adverse publicity. Otherwise, this was a done deal.
 
KC-1: We should attempt to get it declared a public space. Also get BDA to declare heritage buildings. And, put pressure for legislation that the real estate lobby has killed. If not this, they'll take Kumara Krupa, which is also a heritage. It was Diwan Seshadri's personal hiouse named after Kumarapuram his native village in Palakkad
 
KC-2: The wordings of the tweet by CM @ 26/10/14 09:22, saying "There is no proposal to demolish the Balabrooie Guest House. The Government has not taken a decision to alter or demolish it. #Balabrooie" is important. Vigilance in future will still be needed.
 
Muralidhar Rao
amithpallavoor's picture

I believe even UB city shall

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I believe even UB city shall get heritage status. Siddu Siddu Zindabad.

murali772's picture

public spaces and aesthetics

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A "save-balabrooie-to-save-bengaluru@googlegroups.com" has since come into existence, and a prominent member had talked about "a legal framework for the preservation and protection of Bangalore's heritage". 
 
In response, I commented as below:
 
If you ask me, I will say that the legal framework should cover not only "heritage public properties and spaces", but even the ones proposed for future
 
Over the past decade or so, we have been witness to the total "uglification" of the city's skyline with the construction of a number of government buildings, more specifically - BMTC's TTMC's, scattered all across the city, serving very little useful purpose; the Metro stations; the horse sculptures at many of the city road junctions (which came in for adverse comments from none less than Sri C S Krishna Setty, Chairman of Karnataka Lalithakala Academy), and many more.  
Apart from these, there have been the proposals to build a "Paalika Bazaar" below the Freedom Park, a sky-scraper to house "World Trade Centre" after shifting the race course, and a 45-storey interchange terminal where BMTC, KSRTC and Namma Metro services would converge, at the Majestic bus stand (which is perhaps live). 
 
The Cauvery Bhavan, the Civl Court Complex, the Public Utility building, etc, that came up in the heart of the city, even earlier, were not exactly architectural masterpieces either, that the city could be proud of, to say the least. Also, the Vikas Soudha, coming up next to the Vidhan Soudha, took away the charm and uniqueness of the original iconic building.
 
In refreshing contrast was the process of getting the old jail complex converted to the 'Freedom Park', following a fairly transparent ideas/ architectural competition. With that kind of a precedent in place in place now, shouldn't we be demanding that all future developments relating to public places should go through a similar process? Also, Mr Prem Chandavarkar, the renowned city architect, had some time back suggested that we should have something on the lines of New York's Design Trust, which looks into such aspects there, in Bangalore too.
 
In essence, while protecting our heritage, perhaps we need to simultaneously ensure that what we build now are considered worthy of preservation as heritage by future generations. 
 
And, another prominent member commented in turn as below:
 
Murali i agree with you but as far as know future constructions come under different guidelines. Most european cities have such laws that have guidelines fr even details like size of window openings and colour of paint on facade. I doubt yu can club both under one heritage law. But yr principle is sound. 
 
Muralidhar Rao

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