The facade restoration work going on at the 200-year-old building of State Bank of India’s Chandni Chowk branch has drawn ire of both the civic body and heritage lovers.
For a week now, the SBI authorities have been sprucing up the space for a ‘Heritage Gallery’ on the first floor, including fitting of glass panes between the pillars of the verandah.
The ‘Heritage Gallery’ would showcase bank’s history and also that of Chandni Chowk and Delhi.
Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) held a meeting with SBI officials and advised them about the procedure to be followed for repairs to a heritage building. “They need to submit a proposal to our Heritage Committee, which will review it and then forward it to the Centre’s Heritage Conservation Committee,” said Deep Mathur, MCD’s director (Press and Information)."
“(But) now that they have not stopped work, we will review the situation and issue them a formal notice.”
RL Singh, SBI’s assistant general manager (civil engineering) said, “We are not adding anything new. Till a few years ago, there were etched glass panes that were brought down by a storm. We are just repairing the damages.”
But it was not etched glass in the original building. In 2003-04, Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage had restored the building as close as possible to the original the taking help of archival photographs and documents. Pointed out Ajay Kumar, senior project manager with INTACH, “Archival records proved that the cement jaalis (lattice work) was a modern intervention and hence removed.”
Sanjay Bhargava, secretary of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, said: “If government departments openly flout the law of the land and cause damage to heritage buildings, how can you expect a common man to obey it?”