Minister’s remarks on demolition of Devaraja Market spark outrage

Existing structure could be conserved, say conservationists

The remarks of the Urban Development Minister Byrathi Basavaraj in favour of reconstruction of the Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building in the city have sparked outrage among conservationists.

The Minister ,who was in the city on Friday, inspected a few development works in progress besides paying a visit to the Devaraja Market, Lansdowne Building and the Town Hall.

Mr. Basavaraj said there was no way Devaraja Market or Lansdowne Building in their present condition could be conserved and they will be rebuilt incorporating the same design. While it would cost ₹100 crore to rebuild Devaraja Market, the Lansdowne Building is expected to cost around ₹45 crore, said the Minister adding that “one could see results in two months’’.

Mr. Basavaraj said there are nearly 730 tenants in the market and alternative arrangements would be made to enable them to carry on their daily business till the market was reconstructed following which they would be accommodated again.

However, conservation architect Yashaswini Sharma pointed out that the issue was already pending before the High Court which had issued a stay against demolition and hence the Minister’s remarks on a matter which was sub judice amounted to contempt of court.

Though the Minister claimed in his interaction with the mediapersons that the court stay on demolition of Devaraja Market has been vacated, the original petitioners denied it. Sri Raja Chandra and Gouri Satya, who are among the petitioners fighting for the conservation of the heritage structure, said the matter has been adjourned for August and the stay has not been vacated.

The petitioners had brought a stay from the High Court which restrained the Mysuru City Corporation and the State government from acting on a resolution for demolishing the Devaraja Market and the Lansdowne Building which was passed in December 2019 by the Special Heritage Committee.

Meanwhile, critics have also questioned the need for spending huge amounts on new buildings during the pandemic when the existing structures could be conserved at a fraction of the cost.

The Minister also visited the Town Hall where a multi-level parking facility is under construction since years but is not yet functional. Calling for expediting the works, he expressed confidence that the facility could be thrown open to the public soon.

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