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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Approved in May, Tamil Nadu heritage commission remains on paper\

by Julie MariappanJulie Mariappan, TNN | Aug 23, 2012,

CHENNAI: Despite a pro-active move in passing a bill in the state assembly in May to set up a Tamil Nadu Heritage Commission, the state government is yet to constitute the 16-member advisory body to protect structures with cultural and heritage value. The body is to be headed by a noted heritage conservationist.

The comprehensive law was enacted to protect heritage buildings not covered by the Archaeological Survey of India or the state archaeology department. With the state map dotted with rich heritage and cultural buildings and properties, the objective of the law was to identify, restore and preserve these structures and advise the government about development programmes that might affect them.

"It is a positive step to have a law to challenge demolition of heritage buildings in the court. But, the commission has to be set up immediately," said historian V Sriram.

Government sources told TOI that names have been shortlisted for secretary and nominees of Institute of Town Planners, INTACH and a non-government organisation for the commission, and will be announced soon.

As more buildings are on the verge of demolition due to age and other external factors, the commission, when constituted, is expected to help check this. Activists say the teachers training institute in Saidapet, the Madrasa-i-asam on Anna Salai, the Beach house and Shankar Iyer House in Queen Mary's College for Women's premises that have stood the test of time may soon get demolished due to owners' indifference to their heritage value.

The Bharat Insurance building on Anna Salai and Chepauk palace too may fall under the hammer soon. The commission will ensure that even private heritage buildings cannot be demolished.

"We hope the commission is set up soon to list heritage buildings across state," said Intach convener Dr Suresh.

The listing of buildings in cities like Madurai, Kancheepuram, Kanyakumari and Srirangam will take several years, considering their rich culture.

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