Revival work of Karnataka’s Madikeri Fort stopped abruptly

Express News Service

MADIKERI: Broken windows and panes, drooping walls, roofs puking out broken wires, dismantled and decaying wooden doors, vulnerable exteriors supported by rusted pipes – this is the current state of the historic Madikeri Fort and Palace building. What is worse is that it seems like the edifice is puking out the old, abandoned heaps of government documents that have been dumped in the once-iconic palace.

Built in the 17th century, the Madikeri Palace located in the Madikeri Fort premises is in its worst condition. The place was crying for attention and resurrection and the call was answered by an awakened resident – Virupakshaiah who filed a writ petition at the High Court demanding the handing over of the Fort and Palace to the archaeological department for its preservation. While Virupakshaiah has been fighting the case since 2017 to protect the historic edifice, the preservation work has been delayed, ignored and neglected invariably.

“Rs 10.53 crore has been deposited with the central archaeological department for the revival of the palace and the fort. Rs 2.23 crore has been collected as administrative charges. But the court has ordered the recovery of the administrative charges. Yet, no development has taken place in this regard,” commented Virupakshaiah, who was at the fort premises on Friday.

Since the High Court has demanded a reply from the district administration regarding the work status ongoing at the fort premises, DC Dr BC Sateesha, concerned administrative officers and Virupakshaiah visited the premises to hold discussions.

DC Dr BC Sateesha alongside officials and petitioner Virupakshaiah visited the site for an inspection on Friday. (Photo |Express)

While the revival work of the edifice began in October 2020, just 25% of the project seems completed. The contract is being carried out by Gurayya Hirematt of Bagalkot, who was not present during the inspection on Friday. It is learnt that all the workers from the site have been shifted to Halebeedu and the revival process has been abandoned. Meanwhile, the government departments have failed to completely clear the site as heaps of old files, several file racks and other documents have been dumped inside the palace (which previously sheltered government offices) – making it look like a junkyard.    

“An inspection of the work is being conducted as the court has demanded a reply from the district administration. I am unsure that the ASI will finish the work in the stipulated time. The government has deposited the funds to the ASI, yet, they are not working at the site. The tender process of acquiring the required raw materials has been delayed for over four months now and no work is ongoing since then,” shared Virupakshaiah. He added that a request has been forwarded to the court to declare the Gaddige place in Madikeri as a protected site under the ASI.

DC Sateesha who collected details and inspected the site shared, “No work is ongoing at the palace site and the senior officer of ASI has not come for the inspection as per the court order. We will hold a meeting with the ASI state representatives and collect details on the tender. We will recommend the visit of senior officers from the state periodically to check the quality of work. A decision to inspect the place periodically and steps to file these reports will be taken.” He confirmed that the tahsildar has been ordered by ASI to carry out the eviction process of the encroached land at Gaddige and added, “We will verify the documents and take the next measures.” 

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