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Gujarat: 694 heritage buildings repaired, into oblivion

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694 heritage buildings repaired, into oblivion


AHMEDABAD: In the quest for the World Heritage City title, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), in January, submitted a dossier to Unesco with a list of 2,800 heritage properties of the Walled City. The inventory, which expresses the historical richness of the city, was actually poorer by nearly 700 heritage icons. By the time the AMC submitted its dossier, 694 old pol houses had been pulled down since 2010 on the pretext of repairs.



Now small shopping complexes have supplanted many of the heritage properties. An RTI application revealed that AMC had no clue about the number of buildings in its own list of graded heritage properties that are being pulled down in the name of repairs.



In reply to an RTI application from Pankaj Bhatt, the AMC said that 215 buildings in 2012, 419 in 2013, and nearly 60 by April 2014 had been converted from residential to commercial units. "Ideally, the municipal commissioner has to approve the change of use of a building — from residential to commercial," says Bhatt.



"And then the district collector has to ratify it, under sections 48 and 65 of the Land and Revenue Code, 1969. In all these 694 cases, the central zone could not produce these mandatory approvals, according to the RTI reply I received."



Bhatt says the building repairs were approved on the basis of property tax bills which had 'commercial' use mentioned. Interestingly when the French government helped the AMC in preparing the first list of heritage properties in the Walled City in 2001, more than 12,000 had been identified. But in the Unesco dossier, only the 2,800 were incorporated.



Over the past one-and-a-half years, 39 graded heritage buildings that figured in the Unesco's list were referred to the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) for T-girder repairs. Almost all these cases were rejected by the HCC. The committee wrote to each and every owner that dismantling and reconstruction in the T-girder of listed heritage properties cannot be permitted if they were in a good condition and that the owners have to retain the original heritage features. But repairs are still going on, the RTI reply suggests.


Read More: 694 heritage buildings repaired, into oblivion - The Times of India

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