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Restoration of heritage buildings: Traditional method of grinding limestone and sand introduced in Chennai

Reviving a traditional method of restoring heritage structures, the public works department (PWD) has introduced a stone roller yard to grind limestone and sand that would be used for plastering.

Nov 21, 2019, 11.44 AM IST
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A traditional grinder set up at the PWD headquarters in Chennai . Photo: C Suresh Kumar
(This story originally appeared in on Nov 20, 2019)
CHENNAI: Reviving a traditional method of restoring heritage structures, the public works department (PWD) has introduced a stone roller yard to grind limestone and sand that would be used for plastering.

A pair of bullocks attached to the roller in the circular yard grinds these materials replacing machine grinders.

M Raja Mohan, engineer-in-chief (buildings) of the PWD, said the traditional method was in existence for structures that were built in the past using limestone. "About 20 rounds by bullocks attached to a stone grinder generates 250 kg of mortar. We wanted to revive this method for our restoration work," he said.

Though the granite stone grinders are abandoned in several rural pockets of Virudhunagar, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts, officials could not source them as the respective owners refused to share them with the PWD.

Following this, a stone grinder weighing five tonne replicating the traditional grinder was designed to establish the facility at the PWD headquarters on the Kamarajar Salai at Chepauk here.

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Photo: C Suresh Kumar

According to PWD joint chief engineer K P Sathyamurthy, the stone grinders are almost extinct. "We wanted to revive the method such that it can be utilised for Mughal plastering as part of restoring heritage structures of the state government," he added.

Officials said mortar generated through traditional stone grinders had an added advantage. It would give a better shining to walls.

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