In a recent development, the historic Town Hall building in Shimla, which had been converted into a food street on Mall Road, is set to see more transformation. The Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) is now considering restoring the MC House on the top floors of the Town Hall, and legal procedures are being explored to obtain the necessary permissions from relevant authorities.
SMC Commissioner Bhupender Attri revealed that plans are in place to repurpose designated chambers and rooms for staff use. He emphasized that these changes would be made without compromising the integrity of the heritage structure. Noteworthy that currently, the MC house takes place at the ‘Bachat Bhawan in the DC office premises.
Responding to public concerns about the preservation of heritage property after being handed over to private parties, Attri pointed out that such concerns had already been addressed in the contract with the company. The responsibility for the protection of this heritage structure was entrusted to a private firm following a successful bid. The firm had been held accountable for maintaining the ground floor’s interior, and there have been no complaints of any alterations to the heritage structure. The food street itself has adorned its walls with paintings and danglers, using temporary panels that leave the original concrete plaster and paint untouched. The heritage committee is expected to visit the food street to assess the conservation efforts made within the premises, he added.
Addressing a complaint regarding the installation of AC panels on the Town Hall’s exterior wall, Attri clarified that no tampering had occurred. AC and power equipment had been placed at designated spots on the road without affecting the façade of the Town Hall. The location for the AC panels had been preordained for power structures in the Shimla House’s plan.
Attri also mentioned about plans being prepared to dedicate the attic floor of the Town Hall to art and a museum, exploring possibilities for non-commercial use.
In a significant move, SMC had previously leased out the ground floor of the Town Hall for a food court, reclassifying the building for “commercial use.” The monthly rental fixed by the MC stands at Rs 13 lakh, with lessees required to pay three months’ advance rent, as well as an upfront amount of sixty lakh plus GST.
Also, further changes are on the horizon for Shimla MC, including the proposal for a new post for a Structural Engineer. These measures are being considered to address concerns related to landslides, foundation stability during flash floods, and the overall drainage system throughout Shimla.
As Shimla continues to evolve, these developments aim to balance progress with the preservation of its rich heritage.