Vizag Features

August 2004

Visakhapatnam Limited Back in Business:

The week-old, nation-wide strike by truck owners/operators was called off on Saturday (28.8) by the All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) after it worked out a mutually acceptable agreement with the Government covering the contentious issue of service tax and other demands. This was done even as Visakhapatnam Motor Transport Congress, D. Satyanarayana, announced on Friday that they would intensify their stir.

The announcement came just as the strike was beginning to have an effect on prices. Housewives in Vizag were beginning to complain about the increase in prices of vegetables and other essential commodities. Hopefully, this trend will be stopped and reversed soon.

Trucker Stike
Trucker Strike


The abysmal depths to which insensitivity and callousness of the builders lobby in Vizag have sunk is unimaginable. Visakhapatnam city lost one of its very few beautiful heritage buildings on the 7th of June 2004 despite the Herculean efforts put up by INTACH (The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) - Visakhapatnam chapter, to prevent it. A city builder, demolished the building, which was once the residence of the legendary Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, illegally without permission from the Municipal Corporation, without regard for public opinion and without any feeling for the history and beauty of Vizag.

The building bearing door no. 15-1-37 in Ward No. 19, situated opposite to the Grand Bay Hotel, was already listed as a heritage building and the heritage Conservation Committee of the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority had already submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, Govt. of AP, for its formal notification along with many other heritage buildings. This building was popularly known as the round building of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and was a beautiful arched building with its own unique architectural style.

The royal family of Bobbili constructed this building named 'Panchavati'. This building was a 16-sided load-bearing structure, with 40 arches supported on 48 stone columns on the ground floor. The upper floor had a wide veranda with a sloped tile roof, which was supported by 20 odd columns. The total construction was a combination of stone and brick masonry wherein lime mortar was used as binding material and also in plastering. The roofing system for the ground floor was the popularly known as 'madras roofing' typical of that time. From this building one had a fantastic view of the sea on one side and the dense vegetation of the Daspalla hills on the other.

Before Demolition
Before: Just a few months ago, the team took this picture. It is almost as though we had a premonition that this building had to be preserved on film even if it couldn't be done in real life.

Panchavati - Ground Zero
After: All that is left of the building now - a sad picture that we hated taking.

Apart from its antiquity and beauty, the building was important to Vizagites in other ways too: Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University who later went on to become the President of India, was a resident in 1936. The Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, who composed several poems and some articles during his stay here, was another resident (1933-35). These were later published as the book 'The Man'.

On 6th June 2004, some INTACH members noticed some demolition activity in the premises of this heritage building and reported the same to the District Collector for immediate action, as the district Collector is the Convener of INTACH. The Co- Convener G. Srinivas Murthy, faxed a petition to the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh for immediate stay on the demolition. Similar requests were faxed to the President of India and Prime Minister of India. VUDA was the first to act upon the petition and issued a notice to the Corporation and directed that no permission for demolition or construction on the plot may be granted without prior notice of VUDA's heritage Conservation Committee and INTACH [vide letter no. RC 950/99/G1-7-6-2004]. It is indeed sad that the builders chose to wilfully and intentionally demolish the beautiful structure despite being instructed by the Municipal Corporation against doing so.

This also brings another issue to the forefront: Why is the government not notifying heritage buildings for which files have been pending in the Ministry for the last 4 years? Are there any vested interests behind this? This question needs a quicker answer so that we may be able to protect other buildings from being demolished.

What can we do to prevent something like this again? INTACH Vizag has approached one and all seeking support to impress upon the concerned authorities to take appropriate steps to look into the following issues: 1) All the heritage buildings which are technically 'listed heritage buildings' be protected from demolition and damage from vested interest groups. (2) To get all the listed building notified by the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh at the earliest so that a legal support mechanism can be in place to protect the heritage buildings. (3) To participate in the Heritage Conservation Committee of VUDA and make it a fully functional and effective body.

Apart from INTACH, citizens of Vizag should make their voices heard and report any such illegal activity promptly.

Restoration: Although it can never be the same again, INTACH is now actively working towards the restoration of the demolished building by taking the initiative to form a Dr. Sarvepalli Radha Krishnan National Memorial Committee and would like to start the restoration process on 5th September. It will also be a tribute to Dr. Radhakrishnan whose birthday, 5th September, is celebrated all over the world as Teacher's Day.

That many in Vizag are driven by greed with no regard for the beauty and history of the city is a fact that most of us have accepted. Despite that, given the beauty, antiquity and history of this building, we wonder how could this builder bring himself to destroy it?

Do you feel strongly about this? Please post your opinions on our Bulletin Board or send your comments to:

Letters to the Editor

Hello Editor
I read the article on Panchavati, Visakhapatnam, and read responses from different citizens. I did not see the building and do not have any sentiments about the building before reading the article. After reading your article I came to know that such renowned  people had resided in that house and strongly feel that 'The Panchavati' should have been preserved. 

I am surprised to see the violent and dictatorial remarks from Y. Narasimha Rao, an architect from Visakhapatnam, who from his remarks seems to have a good knowledge about how the building was demolished and a better knowledge about the builders. Though he brought in good points about the awareness and responsibility of Vizag's citizens, in protecting such great heritage buildings, I do not understand why he suggests the idea that since the monument could not be saved from destruction, our existence too is at stake.
  This statement may seem logical yet non-sentimental.

I could clearly make out that he was partial to the builder and it is quite easy to understand why. The reason is simple and it shows his vested interests, as he is an architect and is connected with the real-estate business. I would have appreciated his viewpoints, if he brought to light the reasons behind the demolition of the building.
Venu Komanduri
Louiseville, KY, USA

Hello Editor,
India is known for its rich heritage and culture nationally and internationally. After going through your article we can see how strong our so called Government system is working. What support could have driven that builder to take this drastic step which has stunned all the citizens of India. If we ignore this issue then these elements of society will start attacking or demolishing other places as well. 

We need people like CHINNA JEERA SWAMY who stalled the demolition of few structures in TTD. 

It’s really sad to know about this and I strongly feel we should appeal all vizagites to come forward and see that he is punished.

I would like to thank the VIZAGCITYONLINE.COM team which has constantly kept us (all the Vizagites who live abroad or other stations in India) in touch with our sweet home Vizag.

Vamsi Pelluri

Hello Editor,

It may be so easy to condemn someone, particularly someone who is in business, of being callous and insensitive towards culture and society. Let us ask ourselves as citizens of Visakhapatnam about what has been our effort in preserving heritage buildings. 

To begin with very few of us know that such structures exist amidst us. Take the example of the above building. It was in utter neglect for the last twenty years serving as a shelter for cattle, homeless and for automobile scrap. If a structure of such prime importance was to be preserved for posterity, what have we been doing all these years - in terms of preserving the structure or at least bringing it to the notice of citizens Vizag, the sad plight of such a structure?

Verification from VUDA draft master plan document published for public scrutiny, shows that VUDA has not considered the above building to be of Heritage value and hence it does not find a place in the list of Heritage structures to be preserved.

When VUDA, which is the principle authority that looks into identifying and monitoring of Heritage structures, does not find the building of heritage value, how can one accuse the builder of having demolished that building?

Even as on today ie. 31st August 2004, no law has been put in place that declares a particular building as a heritage structure. The process is still on going and it will be quite sometime before such regulations are put in place. Before any such law is put in place it is highly improper and absurd to comment that someone has violated such a law.

If there are any structures that are of heritage value, it is the primary objective of organizations like INTACH to bring awareness among the citizens about the importance of preserving structures of heritage value. 

The above paragraph clearly says that legal support mechanism is not yet in place. Yet, we are blaming people in a very uncivilized manner.

It should once again be made clear that demolition of the above building is not an illegal act under any law prevailing. If preserving that particular building is of prime importance, then all the citizens of Vizag are to be blamed for having not cared for the building all these twenty years when it was languishing in utter neglect. All of us should be ashamed of having slept all these years. 

There are many buildings which are very much a part of the heritage list published by VUDA and yet are being systematically modified without any concern towards the original character of the building. Circuit House, Visakha Museum, Town Hall are some of them. These are very much within the control of the Government and no serious voice has been raised when they were being modified.

Science of Conservation should never be brought into the realm of sentimentalism or into a battlefield between realtors and upholders of civic monuments, otherwise the very objective and more importantly the spirit of Conservation movement will be lost. 

Y. Narasimha Rao

Hello Editor,
It's very sad to know that the Panchavathi building was demolished. Please publish the name of the builder who did this unlawful act. I feel by publishing the builder's name, public can be forewarned and will certainly think twice before buying any apartment from that particular builder.

Bharani Vanguri

Hello Editor,

I really felt bad for the incident. India is known for its heritage, culture, history and architecture. Now we are ruining it ourselves. Shame on those builders who cannot see beyond their greed. The scenic nature of Vizag, which I was used to 14 years ago is gone and now all I can see is concrete, which some call "development". The builders should be punished for their crime, as a lesson to others. It's a sad day for me. Keep up the good citizen work,

Ravi K. Adibhatla, P.E. - Principal Engineer
MACTEC Engineering & Consulting, Inc.

Hi Editor,

This is regarding the demolition of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's Residence near Grand Bay Hotel. Insanity has reached such an extent that we are giving "Two Hoots" to our rich heritage and the legacy left by the great man. Such sinister acts shouldn't be tolerated and the victim should receive unsocial treatment. I just cannot see my city in ruins. Unfortunately, I am one of those passionate Vizagites who are away from the motherland and in a state of absolute helplessness.

Thank You
Siebel Consultant
GE Capital

It’s really sad to hear about the demolition. But, why doesn't the media take steps make the people aware of this, much before such things happen?

Until I read this article, I was not aware of such a place in Vizag.

If the media brings about an awareness to the people about the importance of such structures in and around Vizag, then the people will react much before the builders take advantage of the situation and repeat the same.

Even if it’s late, I thank for its valuable information, and request the Editor to take the necessary steps to bring about the necessary awareness.

Sreedhar. M

Dear Sir,
Having resided very close to the building 'Panchavati' during my childhood and college days and in Vizag for more than 30 years, I am saddened to hear of its demolition. Having resided near it for so long, I would like to share some important facts about it. Here they are:

Around 30 years back, my aunts and my sister were friends with a family that used to stay in that building. We (the neighborhood kids, my sister and I) used to play quite often in that building and around the sand dunes near it. During the course of the 1971 war with Pakistan, the Pakistani submarine PNS Gazi entered the territorial waters of India and was sunk near Vizag. The impact of the associated explosion shook Vizag - I remember the windows of our house rattling for a couple of minutes. We came to know, albeit on the next day, that the central ceiling of ‘Panchavati’ had collapsed; however, its rooms being on the periphery of the structure were intact. As the ‘Pachavati’ was more or less circular in shape, it used to be called the 'Round Bungalow' and that is what it went by. Incidentally the 'Bobbili building’, a big and majestic building nearby, was demolished 15 to 20 years ago. Now, the hotel Green Bay stands there.

I once more share my sadness at the destruction of ‘Panchavati’, where I played many a time during my childhood. I wish that the awareness and the safeguards that the West has that ensure the preservation of valuable resources like forests, hills and mountains, buildings of importance and heritage etc. are in place in India. I wish to express my sincere support to INTACH and in their endeavors to preserve the beauty and heritage of Vizag.

Seshagiri Manapragada
Palatine, IL, USA.

Dear Editor,

I feel that the builder is criticized too much for this and I partly agree with Mr. Narasimha Rao on that issue. If that building was in fact such an important heritage site, it should have been so labelled much earlier. I feel that there are too many more important things we all have to worry about more than the demolition of old culturally important sites. Prioritization of issues is what we all have to learn and we have to keep moving ahead. I have lived in Pedawaltair for about 15 years and I have seen the Vijayanagar Palace Layout of the erstwhile Vijayanagar (Pusapati) family, which was converted into the AU Arts Department. It is only a matter of time before that is demolished too, as the cost of maintaining that would be more difficult than making better use of that site.

It is much easy for us readers to shed some tears whenever we see news like this as we all turn nostalgic and emotional for a moment. But in reality, I feel that we have to move on and not make these things such a big issue. Despite having a lot of cultural heritage and history, the fact remains that we as a country are unable to provide the important amenities a common man needs and instead of diverting our resources towards restoration of historic sites, I feel that the time, money and resources can or should be used, maybe, to provide better education and health care to the needy.

If there are any takers for providing some of the above, I am also willing to donate.

Diwakar Lingam, MD
New York, USA.



A Seminar on "Women Empowerment - A window in Pursuit of Excellence", was inaugurated by Sri Y. Siva Sagar Rao, Director (Commercial) at a function organized at the Training & Development Centre auditorium of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest, Sri Y. Siva Sagar Rao, Director (Commercial), while complimenting the role of women in Nation's development, said that "Excellence is not attributed to the gender. It is to the Human beings." Women empowerment is nothing but the special care or treatment for women in every walk of life. "Hence, empowering women is not only a worthy goal in its own right but also a key strategy for achieving excellence in all walks of life' Sri Sagar Rao added. He said that "it is the duty of the society; you name it as a political society, economic society or cultural society to bring Women on par with their counterparts".

The Guest of Honour, H.W.Mayor of Visakhapatnam, Smt.Rajana Ramani complimented the WIPS division of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant for its relentless service to promote the growth of not only the workingwomen employees of VSP but also the poor and needy women in and around Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. She called upon the womenfolk to join hands to extend all possible help to provide a better living conditions to the less privileged women in the society.

Speaking on the occasion Sri P. K. Bishnoi, Director (Finance), VSP said that women are excelling in all walks of life be it academics, sports etc., He felt that proper representation of women should be made at the Board level of any organization. Sri M. K. Das, IPS, Chief Vigilance Officer, VSP complimented the Herculean efforts of WIPS in promoting growth and development of women employees and embodiment of willpower, integrity and self confidence amongst the working women.

Sri M.V. N. K. Rao, DGM (P&A) -I/C & Hon'ble President, WIPS/VSP gave an overview of the activities of WIPS. He complimented WIPS for its activities in promoting the welfare of women employees. Smt. Selvi Ravindran, Manager, BHEL, Chennai & President, WIPS, Southern Region complimented the VSP management for its unstinted support and encouragement for the welfare and development of Women employees.

Dr. (Smt ) V.Surya Prabha, DGM (Medical) and Coordinator WIPS welcomed the gathering and Ms. Suprabha Menon, President, WIPS/VSP thanked the VSP management for its continued support because of which WIPS wing at VSP could organize periodical training programmes on Time management, Communication skills, Health awareness programmes and Medical camps for the welfare of women in around VSP.

Around 500 women delegates from various organizations from Visakhapatnam and all branches of WIPS across the country participated in this seminar.

The WIPS wing of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant has won the "BEST PERFORMING ENTERPRISE AWARD" from the Standing Conference of Public Sector Enterprises (SCOPE) for the year 2003.