The West Bengal Heritage Commission has decided to not take any immediate decision on whether construction may be allowed on an open ground in front of a heritage building of the Royal Calcutta Turf Club on Russell Street.
Rather, it would wait for Calcutta High Court to give its verdict on a similar matter pending before it where construction was proposed on an open ground in front of a grade I heritage building.
The building of the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) is also a grade I heritage property.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation had sought the opinion of the state heritage commission on whether construction can be allowed on the vacant land in front of the RCTC building.
The building stands in a corner of a 4-acre plot.
The West Bengal Heritage Commission — with about 20 members — felt that it should wait for the high court's verdict on whether construction can be allowed in front of Tripura House on Ballygunge Circular Road.
The division bench has yet to give its final verdict.
Since the two matters — construction on a vacant plot in front of the RCTC building and in front of Tripura House — were similar, the commission wants to wait till the court gives its verdict.
“A matter on an analogous issue involving the same basic principles is pending before Calcutta High Court. The commission has decided to wait for the final resolution of the issue,” a member of the commission told The Telegraph when asked about its decision on the RCTC plot.
The decision to wait was taken during a meeting of the commission on February 24.
“We will not give any opinion on the RCTC matter now,” the member added.
A residential highrise was proposed within the 100-cottah compound of the Tripura House, the stately Ballygunge Circular Road mansion that is listed as a grade 1 heritage property.
The West Bengal Heritage Commission gave its nod to the project in 2017 after it was rejected by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
But the matter reached court after some people felt that the construction should not have been allowed. Following an order of a single bench, an appeal was made before a division bench by aggrieved parties.
Usually matters related to heritage properties in the Kolkata municipal area are decided by the heritage conservation committee of the KMC. But the KMC has in the past referred issues to the West Bengal Heritage Commission, said another member of the commission.
The rules framed by the CMC, mentioned in the Graded List of Heritage Building, says that in the case of a grade I heritage building “no external change will be permissible”. It adds: “Use of the building should also be compatible with the category”.
An architect said this has been variously interpreted.
Some feel that no construction should be allowed within the premises where the heritage building stands while another section is of the opinion that new development may be allowed on a vacant portion of the land on the premises without causing any damage to the heritage building.
The KMC’s mayoral council, its highest decision-making body comprising all mayoral council members, decided to allow the construction of two buildings on the plot owned by RCTC in February.
The civic body, however, revoked the decision within days and decided to seek a fresh opinion from the West Bengal Heritage Commission.