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8 years on, Chandigarh finance secretary yet to convene heritage compensation committee meet

By, Chandigarh
Oct 23, 2023 08:54 AM IST

According to the notification issued in 2014, the Union home ministry had stated that to preserve a privately owned property in its original form due to its inherent heritage value, the owner, if willing, would be offered an alternate site of the same area

: Despite the directions of the former Union home minister to the Union Territory (UT) regarding the aspect of compensating private property owners, whose properties would be declared as heritage, the UT administration has failed to implement the same.

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According to the notification issued in 2014, the Union home ministry had stated that to preserve a privately owned property in its original form due to its inherent heritage value, the owner, if willing, would be offered an alternate site of the same area. In the case of a commercial site, a site with similar commercial potential would be offered, or in the case of a residence, a premium location would be provided, along with compensation to construct a building with the same floor space as the one to be preserved.

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Following the notification, a Heritage Compensation Committee was constituted in 2015 under the chairmanship of UT finance secretary to address the issue of compensating private property owners whose properties are declared as heritage. However, it has been more than 8 years, and not even a single meeting has been convened.

As per the Master Plan of Chandigarh, once a property is declared as heritage, no external changes, additions, or alterations will be permitted to affect the exterior of the houses, and only limited need-based changes will be allowed in the interiors.

According to the Master Plan of Chandigarh-2031, the commercial buildings that have been declared as heritage include the Architectural Controls of SCOs/SCFs in the City Centre, Sector 17 shop-cum-offices along Madhya Marg, Sectors 7 and 26 shop-cum-offices along Dakshin Marg, and Sector 22 shop-cum-offices/shop-cum-flats along V4. Kiran Cinema in Sector 22 has also been declared as a heritage site.

Regarding religious places, the Church of North India (CNI) in Sector 18, the Mosque in Sector 20, the Gurudwara in Sector 20, and the Temple in Sector 23 have been identified as heritage sites.

Among the private houses, House no. 33 in Sector 4, House no. 22 in Sector 5, House no. 28 in Sector 5, and House no. 32 in Sector 5 have been declared as heritage properties.

Despite repeated attempts, UT finance secretary Vijay Namdeorao Zade did not respond to calls.

Another officer stated that in 2015, a letter was sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for clarification on the compensation policy, which was then forwarded to the UT cultural department. The matter was subsequently sent to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and to date, no response has been received, preventing the scheduled meeting from being convened.

Information obtained under the RTI Act by RK Garg revealed that the then home minister in June 2014 had directed the UT administration to make provisions for compensating private buildings declared as heritage.

Garg said that the authorities need to investigate the matter and ascertain why the UT has not invoked this provision despite the then Home minister’s directives.

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