Following the destruction of Kalas Mahal, the 244-year-old heritage building fronting the Marina Beach, in a fire accident last year, the government enacted the Heritage Commission Act. This Act enables the constitution of a 17-member commission to advise the government on matters relating to conservation of heritage buildings in the State and plan for their protection.

Though this Act was passed a year ago, the promised heritage commission has not yet been constituted. Sources told The Hindu that the government has not finalised the names of members of the commission and the file containing the recommendations is pending.

This delay has created confusion about the status of the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), which is currently functioning as a part of the CMDA. There is confusion among the heritage activists and the property owners whether HCC would be recognised by the Act. CMDA sources said that they have legal opinion in their favour and the HCC would continue. However, doubts would rest only when the commission starts to function and clarifies the status of HCC.

Dr. S. Suresh, Convenor of INTACH Tamil Nadu Chapter, explained that the “The purpose of the Act is to prevent further loss of historic buildings and sites. Any delay in implementing it would increase the loss of our built heritage,” he cautioned.

The government enacted a law enabling the constitution of a commission after the fire in Kalas Mahal