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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

High court to decide on P Orr & Sons building's heritage status today

TNN | Mar 19, 2012, 05.00AM IST

CHENNAI: It was business as usual at the P Orr & Sons showroom on Anna Salai, a day before the court hearing to discuss its heritage status on Monday. "We don't see many customers on Sundays and business is slower than a weekday," said an employee at the showroom.

As customers went about buying watches and clocks from the 139-year-old showroom, employees were busy removing stock from workshops in the rear. The firm started evacuating the workshops after Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) sought to acquire the property to build an underground station.

On Friday, CMRL assured that it would not touch the heritage portion of the building after a public interest litigation filed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) came up for hearing before a division bench. Subsequently, the court had posted the matter to March 19 for further arguments.

"Chennai has already lost some major landmarks including the Moore Market complex and the Bentinck building. It is important to preserve the P Orr & Sons, as it is a representative structure of the city," said a conservation expert.

CMRL had earlier gone ahead with the acquisition saying that only the front portion of the building which faces Anna Salai has heritage value.

The PIL contended that not just the front portion, but the entire structure and adjoining workshops were part of the heritage precinct. Demolition of any part of the P Orr & Sons building to make way for a station was a violation of the development control rules, the PIL said.

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