Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coffee House fiascos no more

Coffee House fiascos no more
By: B V Shiva Shankar Date: 2009-05-27 Place:Bangalore

If ABIDe has its way, city heritage structures can't be altered and sold at will even if they're private property

MTR, a heritage hotel, can't shrug off its iconic status as easily as Coffee House did if the government acts on a report ABIDe is working on.

To avoid incidents like the closure of Coffee House in future, Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development Task Force (ABIDe) wants a heritage commission to conserve the city's heritage.

FREEZE FRAME: Plaza cinema on M G Road is among the structures that could get a heritage tag, which will make it mandatory for the owners to preserve it in its present form

ABIDe spokesperson Aswin Kumar told reporters, "The heritage commission will be a statutory body. We will ask the government to set up the commission through legislation so that it will have the power to act effectively."
He said ABIDe would go around the city identifying heritage structures both public and private properties for three months before submitting the final proposal to the government.

The proposal will include preparing a Bangalore Heritage Register (BHR) and setting up a Heritage Museum at Mayo Hall.

Though the modalities are yet to be finalised, ABIDe is hoping to win over the owners of private properties with heritage value.

Permission please

Owners of such property will have to take the commission's permission before altering or selling it.

"It is very difficult," said Kumar. "But, it can be achieved through proper legislation and social awareness."

He said, ABIDe was aware of the challenge in striking a balance between development and conserving heritage.

"If a theatre owner wants to build a shopping mall in place of the theatre, it is a commercial interest that may kickstart economic activity and that's something we should not stop. At the same time, we are interested in preserving the theatre because it is our heritage."

Get the pros

Experts will be roped in and consulted to address these issues, he said.

Citing the example of Lal Bagh, he said it had been partly acquired for the Metro Rail project. The commission, he said, would explore avenues to undo the damage to such heritage sites.

MTR view
When MiD DAY contacted MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Room), a manager said he was not aware of the development.
"We know the heritage value of our restaurant and will take appropriate steps in the event of such a situation," he added.


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