The Madras High Court on Monday gave the authorities time until March 29 to file their reply to a petition by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) regarding the P. Orr and Sons Building on Anna Salai here.

When the matter came up before a Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M. Venugopal, Advocate-General, A. Navaneethakrishnan, took notice.

In its petition, INTACH said that after the court hearing on March 19 and 20, the cleared-out pavement revealed a foundation stone on the building premises, indicating that the rear portion of the building was constructed in 1893. This clearly showed that the rear portion was also a heritage building. The foundation had been laid on July 6, 1893. The petitioner said that in light of this, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority's letter certifying the rear portion to be a non-heritage building was clearly unsustainable.

The government may proceed to retain the land and building for Chennai Metro Rail Limited's (CMRL) use with the condition that no part of the heritage structure, including the rear should be demolished. INTACH was willing to lend its expertise to preserve the heritage structure as also to accommodate CMRL's interest provided the architectural and structural integrity of the building was not endangered.

The Bench has already reserved orders on the writ petition by INTACH seeking to forbid the authorities from demolishing or modifying the heritage structure of P.Orr and Sons building.