The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is moving at a snails pace to expand the list of heritage buildings of the city. While the Expert Committee on Heritage Buildings has identified 1,363 sites as heritage structures,the civic body has listed only 917 as heritage structures,ten days ago.
Amid this,the state government audit report (Examiner of Local Accounts on Urban Local Body) reveals that the remaining have been de-listed without obtaining prior approval from the state government. The report states that out of 1,363 identified heritage buildings and sites,only 179 (13 per cent) buildings were documented,125 (9 per cent) were graded and 137 (13 per cent) were declared as heritage buildings and sites for conservation and preservation by the KMC.
According to the provision of the West Bengal Heritage Commission Regulation,2004,the process of declaring the status of a building has to be completed within six months from the date of the initiation of the proposal. But a reality check reveals that the KMC had declared only 137 out of 1,363 buildings as heritage buildings till 2008. The civic body failed to finalise the declaration procedures for 1,226 buildings due to non-completion of documentation and gradation.
Speaking on this issue,Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said: We are trying to revise the heritage list. But we are not bothered about what the audit report says. We are going about it gradually and systematically.
The report further added that the buildings declared and documented as heritage buildings have been de-listed without approval from the state government.
As per the KMC Act,1980 (amended) if the KMC decides that any heritage building has ceased to be of public interest or has lost its importance for any reason it may with the approval of the state government declare that the building has ceased to be a heritage building.
The government audit report has revealed that the Satkhira Rajbari and house of Raja Harish Mukherjee were de-listed by the KMC after they were declared as heritage sites and the KMC did this without the approval of the state government.
The house of Harish Mukherjee was de-listed on the basis of some documents furnished by the owner which state that the house does not belong to Mukherjee. However,we could not verify whether due process of law for de-listing buildings were not followed by the KMC as the records of cross verifications have not been furnished to the audit department, said an audit official on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile,Bhattacharya claims that the list prepared by the committee was a draft list.
The old list was a draft list. Now,we have prepared a final list. Earlier,the concept of heritage conservation was not there. So many heritage buildings are crumbling and many were demolished. In the old list,there were many buildings that have been identified as heritage buildings which actually do not deserve the tag, added Bhattacharya.