Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bill to protect heritage buildings in Tamil Nadu

Bill to protect heritage buildings in Tamil Nadu

TNN | May 15, 2012, 06.23 AM IST

CHENNAI: A comprehensive heritage conservation bill that is expected to go a long way in conserving historic buildings and environmentally important precincts in Tamil Nadu was tabled in the state assembly on Monday. A commission under the Tamil Nadu Heritage Commission Bill 2012 will frame guidelines on conserving structures not protected by the Archaeological Survey of India or the state archaeological department.

The commission will use incentives and penal provisions to preserve public and private historic structures. Apart from penalising those who deface heritage buildings, it will exempt owners of such structures from payment of taxes or fees for supply of water and grant them certificates of right of development.

According to the bill, introduced by School Education minister N R Sivapathi, the commission will help the government identify, restore and preserve heritage buildings. It will have a say in development projects, including road and drainage work that could affect nearby historic structures.

It will advise local bodies on how to raise repair funds for heritage buildings from private sources. The local bodies will have to regulate hoardings and other advertisement structures near heritage buildings and document records of historic structures. Private parties sponsoring beautification schemes will have to follow special guidelines.

In addition, the commission will help classify heritage buildings according to their importance, supplement existing lists and make provision for restoring structures. It will advise the government in the alteration or modification of conservation laws, and whether a building can be put to commercial use. It will involve the public in creating awareness about heritage preservation.

The commission, slated to meet once in three months, will be led by a heritage conservation expert. It will have 16 members, comprising bureaucrats from departments of tourism, housing and urban development, municipal administration and water supply, rural development and panchayat raj, law, museum, ASI, archaeology, environment and public works department, representatives from school of architecture and planning, Anna University, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), and Institute of Town Planners (India ), Tamil Nadu region.

Activists welcomed the bill saying its penal provisions and incentives could help conserve the state's heritage. "Many owners are not affluent. If incentives are given to owners of old houses in Mylapore and parts of George Town in Chennai, and in Srirangam, Madurai and Thanjavur, then entire streetscapes can be preserved," said S Suresh, convener of Intach's TN chapter. But the listing of heritage structures will be a mammoth task and the commission can use the lists prepared by Intach for Thanjavur and Nilgiris, he said.

Courtesy_

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