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‘Historical’ plan to restore schools Thursday, June 7, 2001
By Shramana Ganguly, AsianAge
Ahmedabad, June 6: Two of Ahmedabad’s historically important school buildings, dedicated to girls’ education since almost a century now, have got a new lease of life thanks to the efforts of those set to the task of restoring and renovating it.
Located in the heart of the walled city at Desai ni Pole, Khadia, both Vaneeta Vishram School and Ray Bahadur Ranchorlal Chotalal girls higher secondary school, suffered major structural damages during the earthquake. Thanks to restorers, the schools will reopen for the forthcoming academic session by the end of this month.
“After the renovation is over, both VV School and the RBRC School, will be structurally fit to successfully complete another century studded innings,” claimed city-based architect Sarbjit Singh Sahota.
A consultant to the heritage department of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Mr Sahota has been providing professional guidance to renovate these two buildings ever since the mammoth task to restore the historical buildings was kicked off in February. Girls’ education in
Ahmedabad owes much to these two schools situated almost next to each other.
The schools came into being at a time when the Indian society was witnessing social reforms, and initiation of such institutions mostly by social reformists, promoted the cause of women welfare through education.
The history of the VV School dates back to 1904, when it was housed somewhere near to where the school building stands now. It was Sulochna Desai, a young widow, who felt strongly for the cause and set up the school.
The foundation stone of the present building was laid by none other than Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on June 29, 1919, a reason why it is categorised by the AMC as a historically significant building, informed Debasish Naik of the AMC heritage cell.
“Interestingly, when the building was being constructed, some idols of Hindu deities dating back to the 10th and 14th century were unearthed, and the founder installed all the idols in the school,” informed the caretaker of the school.
Supported by a panel of arches, the VV School building suffered extensive damage during the quake. “The age-old steel beams had rusted and gave way to the vigorous earthquake on January 26. Even the faulty extension of the school building caused the two building structures to Ram against one another, the old building failed to bear the pressure and succumbed to it,” informed Mr Sahota.
The RBRC School, which was set up by Ray Bahadur Ranchorlal Chotalal is older than its counterpart. “It is about 108 years old,” said Mr Sahota. This school also has a history of social reformists paying visits those days when social reformation and freedom struggle were in fervor in the country.
“This school building suffered less damage because it was renovated recently. However, the building supported by jack arches, could not stand the quake either, and suffered damage,” Mr Sahota said.
Although it was a difficult task to understand the architecture of these old buildings, the professionals took up the work as a challenge. After diagnosing the buildings to understand their make, they had to restore it under present circumstances despite maintaining their originality.
But, the exercise will not go invain as the schools will be declared safe for building use by the beginning of the forthcoming academic session.
News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]