Bharath Insurance Building, photographed ten years ago

It continues to remain standing despite the best efforts of its owners, the Life Insurance Corporation of India. The Man from Madras Musings refers to Bharath Insurance aka Kardyl Building, which as you know completes a decade and more of remaining a roofless shell. The LIC, whose word is its bond, is following the High Court judgement to a T. The Law if you recollect said that the building cannot be demolished. As to what is implied by that statement is clear to everyone except the LIC. The popular view is that the structure ought to be preserved while the owner has interpreted the judgement to mean that the building ought to fall by itself and not be pushed by a wrecker. And so it remains, the only protection offered being a tarpaulin sheet over what was once the roof. But anything that withstood the flood of 2015 and cyclone Vardah in 2016 is unlikely to be a pushover.

It was perhaps encouraged by this that two quixotic individuals known to MMM approached the LIC last month wanting to take the building on rent, restore it to an extent and convert it into a museum. The officials contacted reacted as though they had been invited to trade in narcotics. Did the two not know asked the officials that the building was unsafe for occupation? Yes they did replied the duo and they were quite willing to fund any structural corrections they said. This enthusiastic reply was clearly not what was expected and it caused the officials to retire for a private confabulation. They emerged with a new excuse – the High Court they declared, had said the building ought to be left as it was and so there was no question of anyone making changes or occupying it. And so that was that.

In this connection, MMM recalls that the LIC took it into its head to sponsor large chunks of the December Music Festival last year. A senior functionary, who declared himself a lover of the classical arts was responsible for this. He was present at the inaugural event and said he would be come every day. That was when MMM, introduced to the man, said he looked forward to a long and cosy chat with him on the future of Bharat Insurance Buildings. Upon hearing this the man turned a Nile green and mumbled something. He did not appear at any concert on any of the succeeding days. So nervous was he about any discussions on the building.

It is indeed a pity that such an organisation as the LIC should be having such a rigid attitude towards this wonderful structure. This lack of interest in the building is puzzling especially in the light of the LIC restoring many of its heritage properties in other parts of India.