A portion of the heritage Fire Brigade building that collapsed four years ago, is yet to be restored. Now, the Archaeology Department has prepared an estimate for Rs. 3.9 crore. Will the restoration works begin?
By A. Ganesh
At last, it appears that things are falling into place for the restoration of the 120-year-old heritage Fire Station building on Kantharaja Urs Road in Saraswathipuram.
The Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums is all set to submit a proposal for Rs. 3.9 crore to the District Administration to initiate the necessary repairs. However, a significant hurdle remains in the form of inadequate funds within the Fire and Emergency Services Department, which is looking to the district authorities with hopeful expectations.
Four years ago, during heavy rain, a part of the building’s facade, which had become dilapidated, collapsed. Since then, no steps have been taken to restore the damaged portion. Now, the Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums has prepared an estimate of Rs. 3,90,81,727 for the restoration work. A report regarding this proposal will be submitted to the District Administration within a week.
Many assurances, no action
When the building partially collapsed, the Chief Minister, former Chief Ministers, Ministers, local elected representatives and others made visits at different intervals, each offering assurances of prompt repair work. Unfortunately, these promises remained on paper and were not realised.
This building currently serves as the main office of the Fire and Emergency Services Department, covering five districts: Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagar, Kodagu and Hassan.
Following the collapse of the structure, the main office was relocated to the Hebbal Fire Station, while the Offices of the Regional Fire Officer (RFO) and Fire Officer were moved to the Bannimantap Fire Station. However, around 60 lower-ranking staff members continue to work at Saraswathipuram Fire Station, despite concerns for their safety.
No money in Fire Service Department
P.S. Jayaramaiah, Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of Mysuru Division, told SOM, “We had written to the Public Works Department (PWD) six months ago, requesting repairs to the building without compromising its original structure. In response, PWD officials estimated the repair cost at Rs. 45 lakh. Subsequently, we deposited Rs. 22 lakh from the Fire Department’s account into the PWD account.”
“However, the PWD officers have indicated that they will commence the work only after the pending amount is settled. We have also approached our Chief Office in Bengaluru for funding, but unfortunately, no funds are currently available in our Department,” he added.
If the necessary funds are provided, work will commence as soon as the amount is deposited into the PWD account. CFO Jayaramaiah added, “Even if the work is carried out in accordance with the estimate provided by the Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums, and the funds are released, we have no objections,” he said.
We will provide expertise
We will initiate the restoration work in compliance with the recommendations of the District Heritage Committee once the District Administration allocates the necessary funds. If the Fire Department chooses to undertake the repair work independently, we will offer the services of expert workers experienced in restoring heritage structures. — A. Devaraju, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums
I will soon discuss the matter with the District Heritage Committee and invite tenders to expedite the repair work. — K. Harishgowda, Chamaraja MLA
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