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The proposal of the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) to beautify the congested surroundings of the Dufferin Clock Tower comes as a solace at a time when structures are being cleared to be built, completely ignoring the heritage structures in Mysore.
The MCC launched on April 10 the Rs 46 lakh project to develop the historic clock tower square, facing the famous Devaraja Market.
In its recent report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) passed strictures against the Department of Archaeology, Museum and Heritage in Karnataka saying that the lack of coordinated approach to heritage monuments had resulted in ad-hoc manner of decision-making, resource allocation and conservation practices.
The officials had not focussed on identifying and preparing an inventory of monuments. Consequently, a large number of ancient monuments in the state remained unidentified, it had criticised.
Of the 763 protected monuments, the second highest number in the country, only 31 had protective fencing and the number of watch and ward staff engaged in their protection was very low.
The annual maintenance of monuments had also not been taken up and most monuments inspected did not even have a sign board, the report had observed.
Besides, the High Court recently rapped the department similarly and observed that the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act gave ample powers to protect monuments.
Against this background, the project to make the Dufferin Clock Tower Square a ‘point of paradise’ is a positive one as many heritage structures are in a state of dilapidation and some have disappeared.
The project, to be completed in a few months, proposes sprucing up the area with stone pavements, kerb tiles, archgates and fountains to give a facelift to the landmark place. A park will be created and cultural programmes organised.
Vendors and hawkers now crowding the square will be rehabilitated to a nearby place, according to Deputy Mayor M J Ravikumar.
The iconic clock tower was commissioned in honour of the then British Viceroy, Lord Duffern, to commemorate his visit to Mysore at the invitation of Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar.
Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple Blackwood, First Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (1826-1902) was Viceroy and Governor-General of India between 1884 and 1888.
Dufferin laid the foundation for the modern Indian Army by establishing the Imperial Service Corps, officered by Indians. The Indian National Congress was founded during his term in 1885.