Many heritage structures not on fire audit compliance list of PCB
Pune: Over 100 heritage structures under the Pune Cantonment area does not figure on the fire audit list of the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB), according to the board officials. The conservation of these historic structures gained public attention after the British-era Shivaji market, a grade I heritage structure, in Camp was partly gutted in fire on March 16.
Albert Edward Library on East Street opposite Kayani Bakery that opened in 1975, 100-year-old Victory theatre that was once used as a playhouse for the British, and 160-year-old Hindustan Covenant Church which was burnt to ashes in November 2011 are some of the historic landmarks under PCB.
However, the PCB fire department admits of not having a complete list of heritage structures as most of it are owned by private individuals.
Prakash Hasabe, PCB fire department chief, said, “While Victory theatre has complied with fire audit directions issued by us, we do not have list of many heritage structures as they are privately owned. We have covered only Shivaji market and post fire audit necessary recommendations were made. Human life is important and fire audit guidelines are essential for keeping the area secure for cantonment residents.”
Numerous heritage structures built during the colonial raj comprise residential buildings which dot the cantonment landscape since the British era. Conservationists and heritage lovers have expressed their dissatisfaction over the negligence of PCB in including them in the heritage list of protected monuments of the cantonment board.
Except Victory theatre, none of the heritage structures figure on the list of fire audit or a formal heritage monument-cum-building list of the cantonment board.
“INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) has named hundreds of structures under its heritage protection list and voluntarily submitted it to the cantonment board seeking protection and conservation of the cantonment monuments. There are many threats to these structures and fire is one of them. These monuments face threats like neglect and biological growth. In 1900, Saint Paul’s church was burnt, and later Hindustani Church also was reduced to ashes. These monuments have been neglected by successive board administrations,” said Kiran Kalamdani, former INTACH member and city-based architect and conservationist who carried out a detailed survey of all the heritage monuments in PCB area in 2011-2012.
The cantonment board had earlier undertaken efforts to get only eight structures listed as national heritage monuments — National War Memorial, Race Course, Armed Forces Medical College, St Patrick’s Church, St Mary’s Church, Chhatrapati Shivaji market, Babajan dargah and Maratha War Memorial —under the central act.
Social activist Netraprakash Bhog said, “Heritage structures under Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) like Vishrambaugwada and Shaniwarwada were saved by the citizens and preserved for future generation unlike what is happening in PCB. Similarly, all public and private heritage structures too must be taken care of and their fire audit must be conducted. PCB must restore Shivaji market to former glory and ready a list of heritage structures for public information. Currently, scant attention is paid on heritage buildings in Pune Cantonment area should be looked into immediately on a priority basis.”