Updated: January 17, 2021 11:12:36 pm
Nearly three years after the district court of Vadodara shifted out of Nyaymandir, an iconic Byzantine structure located in the heart of the city, state Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja, who also holds the Law and Justice portfolio, handed over the possession of the building to District Collector Shalini Agarwal on Sunday.
The District Roads and Building (R&B) department will now be responsible or the upkeep of the building till the state government decides on a proposal of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, which is seeking to convert the structure into a museum. On Sunday, Jadeja, who was in Vadodara to attend multiple events, also handed over the file of documents pertaining to Nyaymandir’s revenue records to the district R&B department.
The Nyaymandir building had housed the district court for over 120 years. The court had shifted out of the heritage building to new premises at Diwalipura area of the city in March 2018. Since then, the building has worn a deserted look — its doors and windows shut to even curious tourists. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation, which has proposed to convert the building into a museum, has already submitted a proposal in the matter to the district collector.
“The VMC has sent us a proposal to convert the building into a museum and sought possession for the same. We have forwarded the proposal to the state government for necessary clearance. Once the government approves of this request, we will hand over possession of the Nyaymandir to the VMC and then the civic body will develop it into a museum on its own and be responsible for the upkeep. Until that time, the R&B department will maintain the structure,” Agarwal told The Indian Express.
In June 2015, the then district collector had held a meeting to discuss the fate of the heritage structure and supported a VMC proposal, submitted to the Road and Buildings department, seeking the handover of the building. The state tourism department had also proposed to protect it as a heritage site. In July that year, the VMC commissioner had sought powers from the civic body’s Standing Committee to acquire Nyaymandir and establish a city museum, which was already approved. But a delay by the judiciary in handing over the building to the district administration meant that the structure stood unattended for close to three years.
Vadodara has faced a hurdle in preservation of heritage structures that are prominent architectural landmarks of the city due to the absence of an official “heritage status”. This is despite a high court directive to the VMC to form a cell and identify structures that should be protected. In 2014, the Nazarbaug palace at Mandvi was brought down by its owners, the erstwhile royal family of Sangramsinh Gaekwad, to make way for a sprawling mall.
Speaking at an event in the city, Jadeja said, “I will convey to the Chief Minister the general sentiment of the city that Nyaymandir should be converted into a museum. We have handed over the possession of the building to the district collector for now.”