The Chandigarh Administration is still clueless over the exact inventory of the heritage items designed by Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret in the city.
In wake of the regular auction of city’s heritage items in foreign shores in the past few years, the chief architect office in June directed over a dozen local departments and institutes to audit their respective inventory of heritage furniture and send their report at the earliest but no one has done that so far.
The heritage inventory was prepared by the Chandigarh Administration in 2011 on the directives of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that raised serious concerns over the sale of city’s heritage items by auction houses in the US.
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As a result, a three-member team was constituted that identified 12,793 heritage items in Panjab University, PGI, Haryana PWD department, Government College for Girls in Sector 11, Chandigarh College of Architect, PEC University of Technology, UT Secretariat, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Punjab and Haryana High Court and several other departments.
There were 190 categories of the heritage items, including drawings, murals, models, tapestries, chairs, tables and so on.
Accordingly, each of these items were tagged as heritage and instructions were issued to all these departments to keep them in safe custody.
However, the status of the items was never verified even once after its inventory. On the contrary, sale of these items still continues.
City-based lawyer Ajay Jagga said the delay in status report of their audit was surprising. “It is vital to confirm the existence of all the heritage items previously inventoried. Writing a simple letter will not serve the purpose. If the departments are not responding, the administration should constitute a team to check the inventory.
“As the city is set to celebrate legacy of Le Corbusier, it will be a tribute to him if his heritage is fully secured here and will be displayed at a museum,” said Jagga.
When contacted, Chief Architect Kapil Setia said, “The report of the departments is still awaited. We will again send a reminder and expedite the issue at the earliest.”
Meanwhile, another issue that the administration is still grappling with is how to use all the items in the existing inventory and further settle the issue as what is the real heritage treasure in the city.
At the time of its inventory in 2011, all the items — whether old or new — which resembled the designs of Pierre Jeanneret and his team, were tagged as protected items.
A official said that in the action taken report submitted to the Centre later, the administration had sought expert help to identity which items in the existing inventory belonged to time of Le Corbusier and which were later replicated. But the matter has yet not been pursued by the administration on priority.