An informal collective of heritage conservationists and urban designers has raised objections to a draft of listed heritage buildings, placed in the public domain by the Puducherry Planning Authority (PPA), prior to notifying them as heritage structures.
In a letter addressed to the Member Secretary of PPA, the collective, comprising of civil society activists and urban designers who have been involved in heritage conservation in Puducherry, pointed out that the Grade Cards of the buildings do not adhere to the existing guidelines for Listing of Built Heritage established by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Listing Cell, and which is in use across the country.
“Details such as the present and past name of the building, map reference, date of construction, date of listing and description of the building’s present condition are missing in the draft list. Almost every listing contains outdated photographs and false descriptions. Many buildings shown in the photographs have been demolished or modified excessively with a complete loss of any significant architectural features,” a heritage conservationist on condition of anonymity said.
According to the members, rigorous research is required to establish historic, cultural, and social significance of the buildings as required by the Intach listing guidelines. The draft also provides no justification for the exclusion of the Tamil quarter areas of the Boulevard area, which also contains significant examples of Franco-Tamil heritage.
“PPA should ensure that this list is not made final. Given the Puducherry government’s aspiration to have Puducherry included in the UNESCO World Heritage City list, the PPA should conduct a fresh listing exercise of the Boulevard following the due process of floating an ‘Expression of Interest’ inviting reputable heritage conservation firms/consultants from across the country to carry out the exercise with the highest standards in place,” a heritage conservationist said.