Eight years after the idea was mooted, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has started grading heritage buildings. The civic body has also framed rules for the use, reuse and change of use of such structures.
There are over 1,300 heritage buildings in the city. In the first phase, the mayoral council has approved grades being assigned to 151 of them by the civic heritage sub- committee.
The civic authorities have been mulling gradation of heritage structures since 1998, to bring about realty clarity on the ground. British heritage conservation expert John Raw, after visiting some heritage properties, had advised the CMC to grade the heritage buildings and specify the limit of intervention for each grade.
The heritage conservation committee of the civic body, headed by municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay, constituted a six-member sub-committee for the task.
The sub-committee includes historian Barun De, state archaeological department head Goutam Sengupta, professor Samir Rakshit, architect Anjan Mitra, heritage experts Debasish Basu and Indrajit Chaudhury and state INTACH convener G.M. Kapoor.
The team has come up with a three-tier gradation for heritage houses, with two sub-grades in Grade II, and recommended permissible use for each group. Heritage structures in Grade III can even be demolished after obtaining clearance from the conservation panel .
A set of rules for utilisation of heritage buildings is a long-standing demand of the owners of such properties. In the absence of such a code, realtors, too, would steer clear of heritage structures, fearing official intervention. Given the space crunch in the city and the boom in building blocks, there is a crying need to unlock the large number of heritage buildings and put in place a clear deconstruction code.
“After this gradation, owners of heritage structures will know exactly what they can do with their property. Similarly, those buying a heritage building will know the limits of use of the structure,” stated mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya.
“The 151 houses have not been graded on the basis of the names of famous personalities involved. Other factors, such as historical importance, architecture, aesthetics and present condition have been taken into consideration,” said Bandyopadhyay.
So, explained the municipal commissioner, a building belonging to Rashbehari Ghosh on Judge’s Court Road made it to Grade I, while Uday Shankar’s residence on Golf Club Road and CV Raman’s house on Prem Chand Boral Street were placed in Grade III. Buildings associated with Rabindranath Tagore, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Subhas Chandra Bose, Satyendranath Bose and Raja Subodh Mullick got Grade I status.
Grade IIA lists buildings linked with the likes of Bidhan Chandra Roy, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Ashutosh Mukherjee, Pankaj Mullick and others. Sachin Dev Burman, Meghnad Saha, Chittaranjan Das and others have Grade IIB status. CV Raman, Jibanananda Das and Uday Shankar are some names in Grade III.