THE Minutes Submitted by The Heritage Conservation Committee at the Delhi High Court today on INTACH's petition to declare 62 buildings as heritage in Delhi. It has rejected its own committee's ruling and said no building less than 60 years old (ie built after 1957) can be regarded as modern heritage !! The next hearing is on the 23rd.
Item No. 1. Recommendations of the Sub-Committees constituted on: (a) inclusion of Modern Post Independence (1947) iconic Buildings in the Heritage List Criteria thereof.
In the 49th meeting of HCC held on 2nd May 2016, it was decided to constitute a sub-committee with the mandate to prepare criteria for the inclusion of modern iconic post-independence (buildings in the heritage list. The sub-committee has submitted its report on 13th August 2016. This report was discussed in HCC's 53 meeting on 2nd February 2017.
It was observed that the sub-committee has gone beyond its mandate of preparing criteria for inclusion of modern buildings in the heritage list. The sub-committee has entertained and analyzed the list of 62 buildings received from INTACH and has made recommendations regarding whether they should be considered heritage buildings along' with their grading. Para 1.5 of Annexure-Il, referred to in bye-law 7.26 of the Unified Building Bye Laws For Delhi, 2016 (UBBL) clearly stipulates that the responsibility of preparation of list of heritage sites is that of the local bodies based on the advice of HCC. Further, this para mentions that the list may be supplemented from time to time by the Government. Thus, UBBL clearly identifies the roles of various bodies in preparation of heritage list and HCC has an advisory role only. Therefore, the grading and listing which has been recommended by the subcommittee is beyond their jurisdiction or that of HCC. It is quite clear that HCC can consider any list only for advisory purposes after the same has been referred to them by the local body or the Government.
3. Further, it is not, procedurally correct for the sub-committee to consider these 62 buildings wherea's they themselves go on to recommend a procedure for preparing such lists. The sub-committee has failed to specify the details of the features/ characteristics of individual buildings based on which they have been graded. It is also not stated in the report that the members of the sub-committee have visited and appraised each of these buildings properly. Moreover, the criteria prepared by them was neither approved by HCC, nor by the government/local bodies who are ultimately responsible to approve any new criteria. In view of this only, the sub-committee was tasked to prepare the criteria, which was to be shared with the Government and the local bodies for further action, as may be considered appropriate. Thus the entire recommendations made in Part Ill of the report of the sub-committee are without any basis, arbitrary and completely ad hoc. Hence, these recommendations are not acceptable.
4. It was also observed that the criteria recommended by the sub-committee in Part I of the report appears to be a cut-and-paste job from heritage laws of various local bodies in India and abroad without much application of mind. The criteria are open-ended, vague (e.g. ,architectural significance criterion 7), overlapping (unclear) significance criteria 1 and 2 overlap with the criterion 4), repetitive significance criteria 5,6 and 12) and even meaningless (e.g. architectural significance criterion 10). It is clear that the sub-committee-has not deliberated on what could be significant to Delhi in view of various practices being followed across India or abroad, specially in the context of contemporary buildings. It was noted that nothing specific to Delhi has been recommended. Given the vagueness and the open-ended character of these recommendations, almost any and every building could end up as a heritage building. Hence, such criteria are not acceptable
5. It was further noted that the sub-committee's recommendation that buildings should be at least 15 years old for them to be considered as heritage buildings, is completely arbitrary. This recommendation is against the very sense of the word heritage', which means "valued objects and qualities such as historic buildings and cultural traditions that have been passed down from previous generations" (refer online Oxford Dictionary). Even if we consider a time interval of merely two generations as one of the essential conditions for a building to be considered heritage, the minimum time period would be 30x2,i.e. 60 years. It was pointed out by Member Secretary that when the notifications of the heritage buildings were done in 2009 and 2010 by GNCTD, the list consisted of buildings constructed prior to 1947. Thus, all the buildings notified as heritage buildings were at least 62 years' old at the time of notification. In view of the above, it was decided that the buildings to be included in the heritage list should be at least 60 years old.
6. With every passing year, buildings are being constructed in increasing numbers. In view of technological advances, these buildings are likely to last longer as compared to the buildings constructed in the past. Therefore, in order to ensure that only those buildings which truly deserve to be preserved or conserved are identified as heritage buildings, the criteria should be highly selective besides being very objective and transparent.
7. In view of the above, it was decided to reject the report of the sub-committee. It was further decided to form a new sub-committee to prepare objective, transparent and meaningful criteria for inclusion of modern buildings in the heritage list, based on best national and international practices. However, these buildings will have least 60 years old. The criteria so prepared would then be shared with the other bodies and the Government of NCT of Delhi, who are responsible for inviting objections and suggestions from the public and supplementing the list of heritage sites.
8.Following will be the composition of the sub-committee:
1. Prof. Dr. Rommel Mehta, Member HCC Chairman of Sub-Committee
2. Ms_ Vertika Sharma, Member . HCC Member of Sub-Committee
3. Sh. Sanjeev Kapur, ADG (Architecture), CPWD, Member HCC Member of Sub-Committee
4. Sh. Rajeev Sood, Chief Architect NDMC, Member HCC Member of Sub-Committee
5. Member-Secretary, HCC Convenor of Sub-Committee
(b) Incentives offered for Heritage sites/buildings in Delhi. Because of paucity of time the consideration of the proposal was postponed.