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Restoring Taj may cost Rs 5 bn, take 12 months
Published on 30 Nov. 2008 1:56 AM IST
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The restoration of the century-old Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in downtown Mumbai that was considerably damaged during the terror siege could take as much as 12 months and cost about Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore/$100 million), experts on structural engineering and architecture say. A sea-facing landmark of India's commercial capital, offering a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea and the majestic Gateway of India, the hotel was built in 1903, with its architecture blending Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles. Thus, the restoration, will take that much more time and cost more than conventional restorations, the experts said, adding the services of professional institutions like the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) may also be required. "The Taj is one of our oldest hotels and a heritage structure. So, any restoration work would take a minimum of a year. It is my estimate that it could cost somewhere around Rs.500 crore," said Pandurang Potnis, vice president of the Indian Institute of Architecture. "You must understand that restoration work for such structures is a cumbersome process. It involves a detailed assessment of the damage with blueprints. Only then can the damaged structure be strengthened," he added. "In India, this kind of technology is available with only a handful of institutions like the Archaeological Survey of India," Potnis, who also runs Bangalore-based architecture consultancy firm under his name, said. Visitors to the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel have come away in awe of its Indian influences, vaulted alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, archways, carpets and chandeliers, as also its collection of art and antique furniture. Jamsetji N. Tata, the legendary founder of India's largest industrial house, built the 565-room hotel much before the Gateway of India was completed in 1928 to commemorate the visit of Britain's King George V and Queen Mary. The grand property, which will also require some experienced artisans and workers to refurbish and restore, has hosted royalty, heads of states, corporate honchos and celebrities, among other guests in the past. A.K. Nagpal, the head of the civil engineering department at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here, also said that structural engineering was the trickiest part in restoration of damaged properties. "We have undertaken such consulting projects in the past and provide advice to even private companies," added Nagpal, who specialises in areas like structural engineering and tall buildings. tel's restoration.

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