Letter to Chief Minister of Karnataka

October 30, 2014

Dear Shri Siddaramaiah

People have expressed their anger at the administrators' inability.

I write to you about the move by Government to demolish 150 years old heritage structure Balabrooie Guest House to make way for Legislators Club and your clarification that there is no proposal to demolish or alter Balabrooie. I welcome your intervention in resolving and preventing destruction of the heritage structure.

However Bangalore cultural heritage has been under threat and attack for several years and requires permanent institutional solution to safeguard city’s culture and heritage. The demolition of such heritage structures undermines Bengaluru city’s identity and inherent character. It is a result of current policy, some of which is recent.

As you are aware, our city Bengaluru in its illustrious 477 years of history, has been home to hundreds of heritage buildings, structures and been a centre of history right from Founder of Bengaluru Kempe Gowda, the Marathas, British rule, and the benevolent rule of the later Wodeyar kings. However, due to years of negligent and the break neck growth of the city, we have lost much of the architectural magnificence of history. It takes hundreds of years to create heritage and a few days to obliterate it.

In less than a decade, our city that was home to more 2,000 heritage buildings – both private and government owned - now has now a mere 400, mainly due to large-scale commercialisation. This is a worrying situation and calls for urgent need for a law or institutional mechanism to preserve the city’s past and heritage.

The city’s character has long suffered due to unregulated development. Sites, buildings and other forms of heritage have not been properly identified, leaving them vulnerable. There is no agency that is either accountable or responsible for managing nurturing and carrying for the city’s rich heritage and history. Several NGOs, architects and urban activists have been working towards preservation of the city’s heritage. But the need of the hour is integration of these efforts, evolution of common agendas and escalation of the campaigns in a cohesive and concerted manner until they yield suitable legislations and actions.

In order to protect and preserve the hundreds of historic sites, structures and treasures, both built and natural, I urge you to consider implementing the following:

  1. Immediately establish Bengaluru Heritage Commission (BHC) which will be responsible for identification, conservation and protection of heritage and culture and heritage sites/structures in the city.

  2. The objective of this Commission should be to save the past and enrich the future.

  3. Establish Bengaluru Museum which will house the permanent archive and gallery of the heritage of the city.

  4. Establishing a statutory nodal agency for the identification, protection and conservation of heritage in the Bengaluru Metropolitan Region that will be funded and function as an autonomous body to develop, manage heritage policy and coordinate with government departments for ensure policy implementation.

It is our responsibility as political leaders and community as a whole to ensure we do everything possible to preserve, protect our proud culture and heritage for our children and the future generations to come. Before changes start happening on the ground, victories have to be achieved on the political front for support to conservation of built heritage as an agenda on high priority.

I look forward to your early response in this matter.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Shri Siddaramiah
Hon’ble Chief Minister,
Government of Karnataka
Vidhana Soudha