Film to boost heritage fund

The Registry Building in Chandernagore

Calcutta: A three-and-a-half minute video film is expected to bolster the crowd-funding efforts of the French embassy to renovate the Registry Building in Chandernagore.

"The video is almost finalised. It has beautiful pictures and testimonies of local residents. The website for crowd-funding should be ready by the end of June," French consul general Damien Syed told Metro on Wednesday.

The Registry Building, built in 1875, which housed the French tribunal, is now a derelict colonnaded structure at the corner of the Strand. "A demolition order was passed in 1993 and an office of the food and supplies department was supposed to have come up in its place. We are lucky that it is still there," said Aishwarya Tipnis, a conservation architect who has been working on the former French colony's heritage structures for eight years now.

Chandernagore, the consul general added, will also be the theme of the French national day celebration in Calcutta on July 14. "The decorations at the party will be a tribute to the culture of the city. The aim is to attract global attention to its iconic monuments like Joraghat, the Liberty gate, the statue of Liberty leading the people in the garden of the Institut de Chandernagore," he said.

Raphael Gastebois, an expert in urban development who has been appointed by the French government to help with the Smart Cities project in Pondicherry, took a tour of Chandernagore on Tuesday. "He has now come on board to advise on the Registry Building project. With Tipnis already working as conservation architect, it will now truly be an Indo-French venture."

Syed has reason to be positive. Three meetings have taken place in two days - with the mayor of Chandernagore, the district magistrate of Hooghly and the West Bengal Heritage Commission. Talks are on with a private Indian partner to help with funding.

A memorandum of understanding is supposed to be signed between the embassy and the Bengal government. "The draft has been sent to the state government as well as the ministry of external affairs. We are awaiting a meeting with the chief secretary to finalise the modalities," he said, while suggesting that the Registry Building in the meantime be reinforced with support. "It will be a rational move to prevent more parts of it from collapsing."


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