Kolkata Municipal Corporation to include more buildings in the city’s heritage list after 20 years. It might even consider a proposal to declare some parts as heritage precincts. By Tanvi Jain

 

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The Kolkata heritage buildings’ list that has been lying static since 2000 will finally be expanded after 20 years, in an attempt to not just increase the number of buildings, but to also enhance their cultural, historical and architectural importance, and conserve them 

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has already inducted a structural engineer and an architect in its Heritage Conservation Committee and has even listed details of members and meetings in the public domain, to avoid the practice of downgrading the building without public knowledge. 

The development has come in light of the High Court’s order asking KMC to resolve heritage issues after the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage and Calcutta Architectural Legacies filed a writ petition last year. 

 

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The Old Kenilworth Hotel and Roxy Cinema were two heritage buildings that were downgraded a few years ago when developers engaged labourers to demolish it even before heritage activists could act upon it.

The civic body is reportedly considering proposals by heritage enthusiasts and architects to declare parts of Kolkata as heritage precincts — a collection of houses on a road narrating a story of time, culture and place — in order to control further development and preserve their uniqueness. The proposal writers also highlighted the fact that while cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Puducherry and Delhi, already have heritage precincts, Kolkata still doesn’t. 

 

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However, declaring a neighbourhood a heritage precinct doesn’t mean a person is not allowed to sell or demolish the house in that area ever. Therefore, the architects who framed the proposal also mentioned the need for the government to introduce incentives for owners who are not able to maintain it, such as, by buying it or acting as a facilitator so that someone else can buy and preserve it. 

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