Jalpaiguri, Dec. 24: A 129-year-old church that is on the list of the West Bengal Heritage Commission's sites got a new lease of life with the church committee dismantling the old structure and building a new one.
The committee is also renovating the church premises and relaying the approach road.
The Baptist Church at Nayabusty near Jalpaiguri town was established in 1883.
"In 2010, the heritage commission included the church in its list of heritage buildings. Considering the poor condition of the building, we had hoped that the commission would offer financial assistance to renovate and conserve the building," Reverend Biplab Sarkar of the church said.
"However, no communication has been made by the commission in the past two years," he added
On December 25, 2010, The Telegraph had carried a report on the commission's recommendations.
Local people have taken the initiative to repair the church, built on a 1.5 bigha plot. The floor of the building is made of lime and ground bricks.
"The roof was made of tin while the walls were made of bamboo and canes with layers of lime and ground brick dust. Over the past few years, the condition of the building had worsened. Water used to seep from the roof during rain. In winters, cold wind used to enter through the gaps in the walls. A portion of the building was almost collapsing," said Moloy Sarkar, a member of the church committee.
Before Independence, only Europeans used to pray in the church but later, Indians too started visiting the building.
"As no government help reached us, we took Rs 10 lakh from the church funds to repair the structure," Sarkar said.
According to Sarkar, a 50ft-long and 32ft-wide prayer hall has been built and the committee has repaired the railings, approach road and the boundary wall. The church was inaugurated on November 4.
Ananda Gopal Ghosh, the former nodal co-ordinator of the heritage commission in north Bengal, said: "Earlier, there was a nodal office of the heritage commission in North Bengal University. We had visited several places and enlisted a number of heritage sites, including the Baptist Church, and had recommended renovation.
"But the earlier committee has been dissolved and to my knowledge, there is not a single member from north Bengal in the commission now. The nodal centre in NBU no longer functions for the commission. So, it is tough for me to say why the century-old church did not get any assistance from the state."
North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said: "I had no clue about the church or the recommendations of the heritage commission. Now that it has been brought to my knowledge, I will enquire and see if something can be done for the church."