Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our City Improvement Trust Board, now 104.


The following is a reproduction of my own article published in Star of Mysore, May 2007. It was for the occasion of the Centenary of the formation of "Improvement Trust Board", which is now called the "Mysore Urban Development Authority". 

I found out in my collection of old letters that my great grandfather K.Mylar Rao was Chairman of it soon after he retired. Find that letter at the bottom and do not miss the expansions of CITB and MUDA (shown in red in the last para - they came spontaneously!)

When I 'googled' for his name, I was glad MUDA still has it on its records, here:



In the early 19th century, Mysore was confined within the limits of Hale Agrahara, the Fort, Dodda Petta and Lashkar Mohalla. Municipal activity began sometime during the reign of HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar III about the mid 19th century. As decades passed and the town gradually evolved into a city, there reached a stage when the need was felt for a separate body that could handle the city's development, improvement and health matters.

The deadly epidemic Plague struck Mysore and took a heavy toll of life, esp. in 1898. The root cause was poor sanitation and unhealthiness. It was a grave public concern. The Municipality, with the help of the Plague Commissioner, tried to combat future ravages. Spreading the populace apart, opening out lanes and streets in congested localities and creating extensions seemed the best answer. It required heavy expenditure. By the time plans took shape, HH Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV had ascended the throne (1902). The inadequacies of the Municipality's resources to handle the demands of such crises, surfaced. The Government of H.H. Maharaja came to the rescue by appointing a committee with the Chief Engineer as the President to formulate proposals for the improvement of the city.

Improving sanitation and removing unhealthiness in the city received prime attention. During the first (1894-1902) of two important stages in Mysore's sanitary history, a Sanitary Division under Mr.Standish Lee, was established by Dewan Sir K.Seshadri Iyer. It is pertinent to mention some of the works carried out during this period before the creation of the City Improvement Trust Board:

- A portion of Purnaiah's Nalla, a deep drain cut by the former Dewan to lead water from the Cauvery to the town, which was a source of unhealthiness, was filled. This is now the Sayyaji Rao Road.
- The ditch around the Fort was filled and was converted into a park.
- Main sewers serving the KR Mohalla and Devaraj Mohalla were laid.
-Chamarajapuram (called after HH Chamarajendra Wadiyar), the first important and successful measure carried out in extending the town, was constructed.
- The supply of wholesome drinking water by a system of water pipes from the Kukkarahalli Reservoir and from the Cauvery by pumps worked by turbines. This was a material step in the interest of the general health of the city.

The second stage (1902-10), coincided with the beginning of what became the 'golden reign' of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. Many important developments took place in right earnest, following the passing of Mysore Improvements Regulation III of 1903. Work was pushed forward vigorously by the "Trust Board", under the able officers lent from the Government Public Works Department. Mr.Seetharama Rao was the Chairman and Mr.D'Cruz was the Executive Engineer. The Mysore City Municipality was governed by Regulation VII of 1906 (Mysore Municipal Regulation). It was also a Corporation with a President as its head. He was also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Improvement of the City of Mysore. The Health Officer was the Vice-President in Sanitary Matters. It is worthwhile to quote excerpts of the Govt. Order No.4168-79.L.F.3602, dated 18.9.1902. The general lines on which improvements designed were:

"The slums of the city, wherever they exist, should be first improved, by knocking down unsanitary buildings, providing against overcrowding, bad drainage and otherwise defective sanitation. Proper quarters should be found for surplus population from such localities, and such assistance as is possible and reasonably practical should be extended to poor people for building proper houses. A comprehensive scheme for proper drainage should be devised, not necessarily with a view to attain theoretical, but impractical, perfection, but to meet the reasonable needs of the city."

Accordingly, unsanitary areas were removed en bloc in some localities, all the narrow lanes were widened, conservancy lanes opened for the facility of drainage, many low-lying and ill ventilated houses dismantled, and extensions were formed to provide room for the displaced population. Drainage facility was made possible practically for every house.

Up to 1911-12, the Trust Board acquired about 6,000 properties including open areas, of which 3,616 were houses, paid Rs.13.5 lakhs as compensation, spent Rs.9 lakh in drainage work and other improvements were of the highest beneficial utility and added much to the comforts, convenience and the health of the public. In 1911, Mysore had a population of 71,306 as to 68,111 in 1901. The city was divided into seven mohallas: Fort, Lashkar, Devaraja, Krishnaraja, Mandi, Chamaraja and Nazarbad. In 1913-14, there were 12,122 houses, out of which 701 were terraced, 10,838 were tiled and 583 thatched.

The appearance of Plague gradually waned away as the city's design as well as healthiness, noticeably improved, thanks to the excellent work carried out by the Trust Board. Time-honoured housing requirements, where each family needed a house with a compound or backyard attached for outhouses, cattle, etc., necessitated the creation of extensions for housing those displaced by the demolition and rearrangement of parts of the city. The work of acquisition and demolition of properties, for opening conservancy lanes, leaving air spaces, admitting light and removing congestion was completed in Ittigegud, Nazarbad, Fort and Lakshmipuram (built on the site of Old Dodda Holageri, for some time a hot-bed of plague, etc.). Edgah extension was also created.

By then, Sir M. Visvesvaraiah was the Dewan and also the Chief Engineer of Mysore. It was under his leadership that saw the system of drainage undergoing a complete change. From his vast experience, he favoured the underground drainage system that worked by gravity, to open surface drains. Many of those are still functioning - an example of "made to last" quality! The sullage water from every house in this system was directly connected to the underground street sewer and the whole sewage was brought down to one common out-fall in the valley below Doddakere, where it was treated for purification in a septic tank, and the effluents were utilized for agricultural purposes.

For many years, the CITB offices were located at the Rangacharlu Memorial Hall (Town Hall). CITB (now MUDA) built its own office buildings on Jhansi Laxmi Bai Road in the early 70s, at the very place where a very old, dilapidated set of 'dungeons' (rumoured to have had an underground secret tunnel), existed. (Is that why the 'underground dealings' still prevail in the area?).

Is Corruption Impossible TBanish (CITB) from Mysore's Ultimate Defraud Authority (MUDA)? That is the common man's FAQ! But when someone like Mr. Pankaj Kumar Pandey comes and tries to answer it, in as transparent a manner that would have pleased Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, he is quickly packed off! Preserving such persons to serve the public would only serve the real purpose of the Authority. Let us wildly hope that, even in this 'kaliyuga era', there will be more of Seetharama Raos and Pandeys at its helm!


[Reference source for information: Handbook of the City of Mysore, 1915, by T.G.Lakshmana Rao, a complimentary copy given to K.Mylar Rao who in his diary from 1924 mentions his schedule "Trust Board meeting".  I later found this letter of appointment that indicated that he would take over as Chairman of the Trust Board from Sri Srikanteshwara Iyer!].  

(Click to enlarge and read)


Rob Bradley said...

Dear Mr Dinakar,

I wonder if you have an email I can reach you on as my Great Great Grandfather is Mr Standish Lee mentioned in this article.

I am keen to find out if anymore information exists.

Many thanks,

Robert P.B

Lingaraju DS said...

ಶ್ರೀಯುತ. ದಿನಕರ್ ರವರೆ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಬ್ಲೋಗ್‍ನಲ್ಲಿ ಹಿಂದೊಮ್ಮೆ ನಾಲ್ವಡಿ ಕೃಷ್ಣರಾಜ ವಡೆಯರ್ ಮಹಾರಾಜರ ಕೈಲಾಸ ಮಾನಸ ಯಾತ್ರೆಯ ಹಳೆಯ ಛಾಯ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದ್ದೆ. ಅವುಗಳ ಹಿಂದಿನ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯ ಬೆನ್ನು ಹತ್ತಿದಾಗ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಗ್ಯಾಜೆಟಿಯರ್ ನೆರವಿಗೆ ಬಂದಿತು. ಅವರ ಪ್ರವಾಸದ ಕೆಲವು ವಿವರಗಳು ದಕ್ಕಿದವು. ಲೇಖನವೊಂದನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದೇನೆ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ನಿಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಬಳಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಬಯಸಿದ್ದೇನೆ, ನಿಮ್ಮ ಹೆಸರಿನ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖದೊಂದಿಗೆ. ಅನುಮತಿ ನೀಡಿ


ಲಿಂಗರಾಜು ಡೀ ಎಸ್
ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು e-mail:lingaraju.dsl@gmail.com