Months after the proposed plan to demolish Balabrooie Guest House to build a club for legislators was scrapped following a public outcry, deputy speaker NH Shivashankara Reddy told media that Carlton House, another heritage building, would be converted into the proposed club. Carlton House is situated on Palace Road, off Vidhana Soudha.
Minutes after this statement became public, the city's heritage lovers expressed disappointment and began connecting on social media.
"Carlton House will be turned into a club for legislators. I said, personally, I wouldn't object if they kept the building and trees, that heritage can be form with function. But she (reporter) says the legislators have `elaborate plans'. We'll soon have to gather again to pro test, I fear," theatreperson Prakash Belawadi posted on Bygone Bangalore, a Facebook group.
His post has generated a debate on the group already , and the members are planning a meeting to decide what the future course wil be. Noted architect Naresh Narasimhan posted: " heard about this too! Time to marshal the troops."
"We will protest and ap proach the chief minister requesting him to scrap the plan. If both of these don't work, we will have to look at legal options," Belawadi told TOI.
Meera Iyer, associated with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said the ideal situation is to not demolish the building and also make it a public place.
"We should stop thinking about the legislators all the time. In a city that is crying out loud for public spaces, a place like Carlton House must be preserved and kept open for the public," she said.
In support of saving Carlton House, another Bygone Bangalore group member, Maya Chandra, posted: "I don't think we should give in to this one. Heritage buildings should be saved from politicians and there needs to be a movement to get the Heritage Preservation Act in force. There's enough and more of real estate that can be used for their Club."
This is not the first time the name of Carlton House has been in the news. After the stay on demolition of Balabrooie, there was news that the government may construct the chief minister's official residence at Carlton House, but it slowly died out too.
Now, the deputy speaker's statement to a national TV channel has given rise to a fresh controversy .
Obviously, our legislators have not learnt their lesson from Balabrooie, and are bent on setting up their club on heritage property. Their new choice is not surprising: Carlton House is a huge parcel of land in central Bengaluru, conveniently close to Vidhana Soudha and Legislators' Home. With social media already abuzz with protesting voices, it's clear that citizens are not going to give up prized heritage properties without a fight - not even if they promise to keep the structure and trees intact. Instead, our VIPs should realize they cannot misuse power to take over a public legacy, and look out for another piece of land.