Restoration of heritage buildings in TN hit for want of skilled workers

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Chennai, Feb 4

 Restoration of heritage buildings by the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department has hit a roadblock following the lack of skilled labourers and material.

The 250-year-old Humayun Mahal at Chepauk is under restoration but only with 20 workers which has affected the flow of the work. Sources in PWD said that the department does not have skilled manpower for such projects in the state.

The department is also in the process of renovating the old press building on Mint Street which used to mint gold about 200 years ago. This, according to the PWD sources, has also been affected as most of the North Indian workers who are experts in this type of work are not back to the state following the pandemic.

Another major issue the department is facing is the non-availability of raw material as most of the British-era buildings in the state cannot be restored for lack of historic construction material.

A senior official with the PWD said: "The restoration work at the Humayun mahal at Chepauk, an iconic structure, has been hit following the pandemic and non-availability of skilled workers. Another major factor is the lack of materials for the project. We have to source sand from the Cauvery river in Andhra, Whitestone from Rajapalayam as well as from Rajasthan, limestone from Virudhunagar, granite from Rajapalayam, and square tiles from Tirunelveli. These are available but the lack of manpower is creating major issues and there is an inordinate delay in the restoration work."

Madras University Clock tower work has also been affected by the lack of manpower but after many changes of dates, it is now in the final phase of completion. PWD sources said that the Old Press building restoration will be completed by the year-end and that lack of maintenance has taken its toll on the building.

The state Public Works Department is in the process of restoring around 60 heritage buildings in the state at present. The department has also submitted a proposal for 90 odd heritage buildings that are to be restored to their lost glory. However, the lack of skilled manpower and the shortage of construction materials have affected the restoration of these beautiful structures that were once the pride of the land.


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