BANGALORE: The who’s who of the city rallied to save Balabrooie guesthouse here under the banner of Save Balabrooie Committee on Sunday. While the controversy surrounding the rumoured demolition was laid to rest by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the committee urged the government to introduce the heritage preservation and regulation policy in the next legislature session.
Architect Naresh V. Narasimhan, who was among those who met Mr. Siddaramaiah later in the day, said that while the Chief Minister assured them that there was no plan to demolish the building, they were concerned over the felling of trees on the premises, some of which were over a century old. The trees will be a casualty if the proposal to build a club for legislators becomes a reality. Mr. Siddaramaiah reportedly told committee members that while a 12-year-old proposal to build a club existed, no final decision had been taken.
Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) convener Sathya Prakash Varanashi said the regulation policy’s draft had been readied at least four years ago and was pending with the Urban Development Department. Mr. Narasimhan said implementation of the policy was crucial as only 400 of the approximately 1,800 heritage buildings in the city — public, private and schools — remained as of today. Taking exception to the fact that a club was proposed at the Balabrooie guesthouse site, he said heritage buildings should be accessible to the public and could be converted into museums, art galleries or cultural spaces.
Madhusudhan S. from INTACH said the roughly 154-year-old guesthouse had never been restored, barring a few additions at the entrance to prevent water seepage. “This is a place where the likes of Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore have stayed. Even if it is converted into a museum, care should be taken to maintain it,” he added.
The committee members also met Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa. Among those who pledged their support for the cause were artist S.G. Vasudev and singer-actor Vasundhara Das. The committee also said the Urban Arts Commission needs to be reconstituted.