In November 2017, after severe opposition, the Karnataka government had ordered the demolition of the iconic Krumbiegel Hall, located in Bengaluru’s Lalbagh Botanical Garden.
Years of neglect had caused a part of the structure’s wall and ceiling to crumble last year, after which it was completely razed down in November 2017.
After much deliberation, the Department of Horticulture has now decided to hand over the project to the Archaeological Department to carry out the reconstruction.
According to Dr M Jagadish, Joint Director of the Department of Horticulture, the tenders will be called for in the near future.
“We have handed over the task to the Archaeological Department. They have been conducting a feasibility study. They will call for tenders soon,” he said.
The department was supposed to call for tenders in April, however, the process was stalled as the election code of conduct was in place, Dr Jagadish said.
“The Archaeological Department was in the process of conducting a technical feasibility study, which they completed recently, the tenders will be called for in a few weeks,” he added.
The department will be allotted Rs 98 lakh for the reconstruction in a 25x35 square-ft space.
The 200-year-old Krubiegel Hall’s wall had collapsed after a bout of heavy rainfall in Bengaluru in 2017. Following this, the Horticulture Department had decided to demolish the structure and reconstruct it.
Sources in the Horticulture Department said that despite several studies which were submitted in the past regarding the danger of the hall collapsing, the state government had not taken any measures to protect the heritage structure.
In 2007, Civil Aid Technoclinic Pvt Ltd had submitted a study about the condition of Krumbiegel Hall to the Horticulture Department.
“The report had stated that mortar and iron used for constructing the hall were not strong enough due to years of neglect. The report had said that the iron used for construction was riddled with rust. The report had also recommended immediate restoration of the structure,” the source said.
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) had in 2010 offered to take up the restoration work and had proposed to complete the work at the cost of Rs 1.95 crore. The Department of Public Works (PWD) had offered Rs 1.1 crore and the plan had been shelved after that.
“PWD had said that the cost of restoration would be too high and had recommended that the structure be brought down and a new structure be constructed instead,” the source added.
In 2017, although the façade of the hall remained intact, the inside had caved in. The hall had vegetation growing out of it and the waterproofing was damaged.
“It was being used as a place to dump waste generated in Lalbagh,” the source said.
Sometime between 1908 and 1932, the Superintendent of the Lalbagh decided to construct a space within the garden for training students in the field of Horticulture.
Hence, a 25x35 sq-ft space was selected, where the hall was constructed and named after the garden’s first Superintendent Gustav Krumbiegel.