The civic body has begun removing advertisements and hoardings hanging from walls of heritage buildings as part of a drive to ensure that the façades of such structures remain visible, officials said.
The drive began with Chowringhee Mansion, at the crossing of Park Street and Jawaharlal Nehru Road, last month. Fifty-four other heritage buildings that have advertisements hanging from their walls have also been identified for action, said an official of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) involved in the project.
Chowringhee Mansion is listed as a Grade I heritage building. “The building has been included in the ‘Graded List of Heritage Buildings’ prepared by the KMC because of its architectural style,” said an official of the KMC. According to the Graded List, “no external change will be permissible” to a Grade I heritage building.
About 4,000sq ft of advertisements hanging from the walls or installed on the terrace of the building have been removed over the past month, said the KMC official.
“We have identified 55 heritage buildings across the city where advertisements are hanging from walls. We will remove all the advertisements. As for Chowringhee Mansion, we have removed about 4,000sqft of advertisements from its walls,” said the official.
A guard at the building said work on removing the hoardings had begun about a month ago. While all advertisements had been removed, an iron frame to which the flexes used to be attached still jut out from the building’s exterior.
The KMC official said the frame would be removed, too. Work is currently suspended because of rain.
The KMC Act 1980 mentions that no frame, hoarding or advertisement boards can be erected on heritage buildings without permission from the commissioner of the KMC, also called the municipal commissioner.
“No person shall erect, exhibit, fix or retain upon or over any land, building, wall, hoarding, frame, post, kiosk or structure any advertisement, or display any advertisement to public view in any manner whatsoever, visible from a public street or public place (including any advertisement exhibited by means of cinematograph), in any place within Kolkata without the written permission of the Municipal Commissioner,” the act says.
The KMC has decided that it will revoke permissions, if any, granted to owners of heritage buildings from where the civic body wants to remove advertisements.
“We will revoke permissions given to heritage buildings if we see that advertisements hanging from the structures are blocking their view. If the owners apply again for permission to put up advertisements without blocking the facade, we may give the nod for a limited number of hoardings and specify locations (where they can be put up) so that the full view of the building is not blocked,” said Debashis Kumar, mayoral council member of the KMC in charge of the advertisement department.
“Our main objective is to allow an unhindered view of heritage buildings.”
While the KMC is removing advertisements hanging from walls of heritage buildings, many such structures have banners and hoardings attached to bamboo or wooden frames erected on footpaths in front of them. Besides, thick bunches of overhead cables prevent a good view of many buildings, including Chowringhee Mansion.
The Telegraph found hoardings attached to temporary wooden frames in front of Tipu Sultan mosque, a heritage building, and several other structures in Esplanade.
An official of the KMC admitted that it was their duty to remove such hoardings and banners. Kumar said the KMC would remove the temporary hoardings also.