I had written about dilapidated house of Lord Harris under caption - Cricketers, BCCI should help in preserving the heritage status of dilapidated residence of Lord Harris, which was published in these columns in the month of September, 2014.
I even sent the copy of the same to Sri. Sachin. But, there was no response from him. Now it has come to my notice through journalist friends that, the ruined house of Lord Harris, the man responsible for introducing Cricket in India, is soon to get a makeover from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The now dilapidated building in South Mumbai was used as a municipal school till 2008. After it became too risky to hold classes inside the building and the authorities officially declared it as 'dangerous,' the students were moved out of it and were shifted to four outhouses.
George Robert Canning, known as Lord Harris, had been the Governor of Bombay from 1890 to 1895. The three-storey residence, constructed in the 19th Century, is known as the Lord Harris Semi English Municipal School. This heritage building is now a leaky, ramshackle structure supported by metal poles from outside at some places. The BMC has closed the gates of the building.
Born in Trinidad, Lord Harris was a Right Handed Batsman and represented England test cricket team. According to various accounts of different authors, he was responsible in sending our first team from England to India to play 'test' cricket. Apart from his work to spread Cricket in India, his tenure as the Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai) is infamous for Hindu and Muslim communal riots in the city.
The building stands in South Mumbai area, near famous Metro Cinema. With gates closed to prevent trespassers from entering the school premises and the public toilet adjacent to the compound wall, it is almost impossible to recognize the heritage structure.
The successive incidents of falling of roof of this three-storey building have put the lives of over 196 students in danger. Despite repeated correspondence with the municipal authorities, the building was not repeated for over six years.
Vinod Shelar, chairman of the BMC's Education Committee told The Hindu that the house will finally get a makeover as the restoration work of this heritage structure is likely to begin in February 2015.
Mukesh Mahida, president of the school management committee, a joint body of parents and teachers, explains the uniqueness of this school. "Do you know from where some of these kids in primary section come?" he asked. Without waiting for a reply he answered saying from as far as Vasai and Nalasopara (almost 50 kms away from South Mumbai).
"Both of their parents work here. They are either domestic employees or coolies in the markets of South Mumbai. They don't want their kids to stay at home alone, so they bring them here and enroll here. Kids come early morning, study and leave with their parents late in the afternoon," he said.
The parents and students hope that the 'dangerous' building, which once hosted the head of the state and later the children of working class should get repaired as early as possible.
After reading the news at least now the Indian Cricketeers should send their contributions to the BMC to bring back the old look to the building as well as the children can continue their studies in a new building and atmosphere.