GUWAHATI, Aug 6 - The reported move of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LICI) to demolish the Oriental Insurance Company Building at Fancy Bazar in the city has been vehemently opposed by the voluntary organisation Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG) and the Guwahati Divisional Insurance Employees� Association.
SGBG general secretary Satyen Doloi said today that their organisation would take recourse to agitation, if the situation so demands, to frustrate the LICI move to demolish the 78-year-old building.
The building is a part of the journey of Guwahati from a tiny administrative town to a metropolis and it is witness to many memorable events of Guwahati. Once, it was a centre of the insurance business of Greater Assam, which is now known as the NE region.
Disturbing reports are pouring in about the frenzied preparation of the LICI authorities to clear the site of the Oriental Insurance Company building by felling the lush trees in its precinct within a day or two. In case the LICI authorities dare to do that, it will have to face the wrath of the Guwahatians, warned the SGBG general secretary.
He has made an appeal to both the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) and the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), whichever has issued the building permission to the LICI to build a commercial complex at the site of the Oriental Insurance Company Building, to make public statements annulling the building permission. Or else, the SGBG general secretary warned that their organisation would start agitation against these agencies.
He also made an appeal to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to use his good office, in line with the Chief Ministers of other states like West Bengal, to prevent the LICI authorities from demolishing the Oriental Insurance Building, or, damaging its natural environment.
General secretary of the Guwahati Divisional Insurance Employees� Association Bhaben Kalita said that they are for the prosperity of the LICI, but are opposed to any move to demolish a heritage structure for the purpose. The LICI needs more space to accommodate its expanding business in Guwahati. But to accommodate its expanding business, it should not damage the heritage structure like the Oriental Insurance Building, which was once a landmark of Guwahati, Kalita said.
According to a report of October 20, 2012 issue of the Chennai internet edition of The Hindu, the Heritage Committee of the Chennai Metropolitan Area denied permission to the LICI to carry out major modifications of the then 115-year-old Bharat Insurance Building.
The building was subjected to uncertainties for six years, as the move of the LICI to demolish it was challenged in the court by the INTACH in 2006. The Madras High Court stayed the demolition move. The LICI then moved the Supreme Court of India and the Apex Court directed the LICI to obtain the permission of the Heritage Committee to demolish the building. The LICI then moved the Heritage Committee seeking permission to modify the building into a complete glass structure.