Shimla's oldest colonial marvel, historically known as the Vice Regal Lodge, awaits the much needed restoration, which is delayed for want of consultant.
Renamed as Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) post Independence, as regards to restoration of the building is concerned, has been hit with tribulations over passage of time.
Earlier faced with apathy, lack of funds had been a stumbling block. However, after the ministry of Human Resource and Development (HRD) that governs the institute allotted funds for repair work, the hunt for a consultant has posed to be a hurdle for the restoration work to take off.
The HRD ministry had already allotted Rs.56 Crore for the repair of the institute and a sum of Rs.8.5 Crore towards first instalment.
To undertake the restoration work, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) is the implementing and monitoring agency, which will be assisted by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
CPWD, last year was provided with Rs.5 Core, however, more than a year has elapsed and search for a suitable consultant still continues.
According to sources, a year ago, the post of consultant to guide the CPWD and ASI for the restoration had been advertised by CPWD, which could not mature owing to the IIAS, officiating Secretary Prem Chand said, “We are in the process to hire a consultant and soon the post of consultant will be advertised again, as we are looking for an expert to undertake the restoration work of the historic building which is no ordinary.”
He disclosed that, as the entire restoration is not possible in one go, the same will be done in a phased manner and certain portions will be picked up to begin with, that include the back portion of the building, he added.
The major renovation of the building required is in the back portion of the building that has become vulnerable.
Some of the rooms have been vacated that include around three offices of the publication wing, two rooms housing books, security guard changing rooms.
The weather vagaries are writ large on this architectural marvel and faced with structural distress is in need of restoration to sustain its splendour.
Earlier, minor repair works conducted with lack of archaeological expertise and inputs of specialist has proved to be a bane to the preservation of the architecture.
The plans for restoration are drawn by the ASI which falls under the ministry of culture and the central public works department further executes plans for restoration.
The restoration had over the years, also suffered owing to the lack of coordination between various government departments and agencies that has hampered the work.
The magnificent building was built in 1888 in Jacobethan style during the regime of Lord Dufferin since then has witnessed scores of historical moments. Vice Regal Lodge remained the residence of Viceroys during the British Raj days was renamed as Rashtrapati Niwas after Independence. It was in October 20, 1964, that the then President of India S Radha Krishnan inaugurated the institute.