P. Sunderarajan

NEW DELHI: In a move to conserve the heritage of the colonial era buildings of the North and South Blocks on Raisina Hills here, the Cabinet on Thursday decided that any addition or alteration, including repairs, which involves changes in the original form and shape, be carried out only after consulting a specially constituted group of experts.

The ‘Special Advisory Committee on the Conservation and Protection of North/South Block’ will be headed by the Additional Director-General (Architecture) of the Central Public Works Department. It will have a representative from the Archaeological Survey of India, and the Chief Architect of the CPWD and the Chief Engineer (civil/electrical) as members, Information and Broadcasting Minister and Cabinet spokesperson Ambika Soni told journalists.

The government issued detailed guidelines to be followed by the CPWD, the ministries and departments occupying the buildings.

Heritage value

The aim was to ensure that while making alterations and providing for modern amenities such as air-conditioners, the heritage value and architecture were not affected.

Every year, a team chaired by the Chairman of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, assisted by the ASI and CPWD Directors-General, would conduct an audit to ensure that the protocols and the guidelines were adhered to.

The audit report would be forwarded by the Urban Development Ministry to the ministries and departments housed in the North and South Blocks for corrective action, if needed.

Besides the members of the annual audit team, three professionals would undertake a biannual audit and their report would be placed before the Cabinet.

Chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Cabinet also decided to extend the rehabilitation package for victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to States and Union Territories that were left out.

“It is possible that all the relief supposed to have been given to the victims has not been given. Therefore, it has been extended to enable the Centre to fulfil its assurances given in Parliament,” Ms. Soni said.

The Rs. 714-crore package was meant for the victims in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Delhi.

The Cabinet gave its clearance for an allocation of Rs. 1,473 crore to the Cotton Corporation of India to meet the losses it incurred on account of procurement and disposal of cotton during 2008-2009.