THE UNIVERSITY of Mumbai (MU) was awarded the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation on Wednesday for restoring the Rajabai Clock Tower and Library Building on its premises.
Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, also the MU chancellor, accepted the award — award was announced last year — from UNESCO India Director Eric Falt on behalf of the university.
Principal architect of the project, Brinda Somaya, told The Indian Express the broken tiles at the entrance of the library building were restored by borrowing tiles from other demolished buildings. “Nothing had been done for a long time. Four types of stones were used to construct the building…,” she added.
The restoration work was carried out at the initiative of the Indian Heritage Society, with financial support from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
The first phase of the project began in 2013 and was completed in 2015. As part of the first phase, layers of polish were removed to restore the ceiling made of burma teak wood. The leakage of the ceiling was fixed. “Some areas were painted, including stones. Delicate statutes and broken carvings were fixed,” Somaya said.
The second phase, slated to be completed in the next six months, will include restoring the ceiling lights and individual places in the building as well as furniture.
Besides Somaya, Minister of Higher Education Vinod Tawde, MU Vice-Chancellor Suhas Pednekar, Chairperson of Indian Heritage Society Anita Garware and TCS COO N G Subramaniam attended the event.
Calling it a highly competitive regional contest, Falt said that the award aimed at recognising efforts of private individuals and organisations throughout the Asia Pacific region in the field of conservation.
While India alone has 38 World UNESCO heritage sites, Mumbai has 19 UNESCO Asia-Pacific heritage sites, he added. Rao asserted that with its numerous heritage buildings, libraries, synagogues, churches and historic temples, south Mumbai has the potential to become the best heritage district of India.