RK Narayan house awaits funds, gets rain

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By K.M. RAKESH
  • Published 8.06.13
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Bangalore, June 7: R.K. Narayan’s vacant and partly demolished house in Mysore is facing its second monsoon unprotected since the Karnataka government promised to convert it into a monument.

The then BJP government had passed the onus of funding the project to the Mysore civic body. Last year, the city council resolved not to release the money after local writers slammed the move to honour a non-Kannadiga who was born in Chennai and wrote in English.

The writers’ opposition died out soon but the state went into election mode and the project was forgotten.

Narayan had written many of his works, including Malgudi Days and Swami and his Friends, from this house, built in 1961 on a 120x80ft plot in the upscale Yadavgiri locality.

The author had initially continued to live at his family home in nearby Lakshmipuram but moved into the new house in 1966.

Failing health forced him to move to daughter Hema’s house in Chennai in the early 1990s. He passed away in Chennai on May 13, 2001, aged 94.

Since then the house has been lying vacant. After Hema’s death, it passed to Narayan’s grandchildren Minni and Srinivas, who sold it to a builder, triggering an outcry.

When the builder began demolishing the house, the Mysore civic body took the matter up with the state government in September 2011.

The government promised the funds to convert it into a national monument. Then law and urban development minister Suresh Kumar quickly got an order passed under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act to take the house over.

But instead of making budgetary provisions for the project, the government asked the Mysore civic body to transfer Rs 2.33 crore to the Mysore Urban Development Authority, which was tasked with converting it into a monument.

When the state government acquired the two-storey house, the builder had already stripped it of all its wooden doors and window frames. The concrete sunshades over the windows were almost entirely demolished.

The rainproof sheets stretched over the house are now in shreds after two summers and one monsoon, with another wet season approaching.

“I had written to the government to get the funds released through the civic body but nothing has happened so far,” Mysore Urban Development Authority commissioner C.G. Betsurmath told The Telegraph today.

“Our fear is that the building will get damaged in the rain,” Betsurmath said, adding that he planned to write to the state’s new Congress government.

Mysore civic commissioner P.G. Ramesh could not be reached.

A state government official said some money might be released now for basic work to protect the house from rain. The funds for the monument project may be provided later.

“Since we are only an implementing agency, it’s impossible to start work without funds,” said Betsurmath.

“I hope the government will act quickly so we can start work and prevent further damage to the house.”