Vadodara: The razing drive by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) in Dandiabazaar may give the city wider roads but it has taken toll on some of the landmark structures and establishments in the area.

While the Canara Coffee House (CCH) was razed last year by its owners to redevelop it, the fire brigade building and other establishments were brought down after a recent notice issued by the civic body.

Heritage lovers in the city are surprised at the fact that the VMC on one hand talks about promoting the city’s heritage and on the other, it as been brazen in its approach in dealing with landmarks.

“Places like the CCH or the fire brigade building are today classified as living heritage. A part of the fire brigade building could have been saved, but the effort was not made,” said Chandrashekhar Patil, an art historian and heritage enthusiast.

Besides the fire brigade building, old establishments like the Vasant Studio and Amrut Ras Ghar have also been razed after VMC notices.

While the owners say that they did so on their own, it is quite evident that they wanted to avoid damage to their properties if they waited for the VMC to do so. Patil said that if such road widening initiatives were taken up in the old city areas, facades of several old residences where people stay may be affected. “The old city area will lost its identity if this happens,” he said.

“Development and such damages are two sides of the same coin. My grandfather had started this studio in 1954. We lost an about 19 feet long portion but we brought it down voluntarily,” said Sandeep Gandhi of the Vasant Studio. He said that the family was committed to ensure that the studio functioned till 2054, thus completing a century.

But Gandhi should consider himself lucky as he had sufficient space to keep functioning. Many others have not been so fortunate and this includes the VMC’s fire brigade itself.

VMC officials, however, said that the road line in the area had been in place since the 1970s.

“New buildings in place of existing ones were constructed leaving space for the road. For some reasons, the initiative was not taken up earlier,” said an official.

Dr Mangesh Jaiswal, director, encroachment removal and security, VMC said that no force had to be used after issuing notices. “Wherever needed, we provided machinery and support, but people have razed structures on their own,” he said.

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