Why Bengaluru's 110-year-old dispensary is struggling for survival

The bubonic plague of 1878 led to the creation of extensions to the congested old Bangalore city. It was also the beginning of a legacy of philanthropists, whose contributions serve people even today. One such gift to Bengaluru was the Annasawmy Mudaliar Dispensary on Moore Road in Fraser Town. Owned by the city corporation, the heritage structure, which will enter its 110th year in 2019, suffers from neglect and lack of continuous maintenance.

“Once people settled down in the newly-created localities after the plague, there was a need to build basic infrastructure and healthcare infrastructure in these areas,” said Dr BA Anantharam, Mudaliar’s greatgrandson who is the director of the the Annasawmy Mudaliar General Hospital next to the heritage dispensary.

His ancestor, Anantharam said, took inspiration from Arcot Narrainsawmy Mudaliar (who founded RBANMS Educational Charities) to build a school for the underprivileged who suffered from socio-vocational discrimination. “The dispensary was built in 1909 as a primary healthcare centre for the local people. My great-grandfather soon handed it over to the municipal corporation, which has been maintaining it till date.”

Annasawmy Mudaliar, who had a construction business, maintained good relations with the British and handled various public infrastructure projects in the city, including the Mayo Hall in 1883 and the Bangalore City Railway Station in 1891.

His dispensary was part of such primary healthcare centres that the government established with the help of philanthropists including Aga Abdul Sait, Rao Bahadur Yele Mallappa Chetty, Velu Mudaliar and Haji Sir Ismail Sait. From the mid-1850s to the early 20th century, the government also set up a number of maternity homes across the city through such private donations in order to provide accessible and affordable healthcare.

Spread across 10,000 sqft, the Annasawmy ‘Mood’ Dispensary stands out in the locality because of its red Madras tile roof, monkey-top windows, lime

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