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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Heritage building - Court order on P Orr & Sons building demolition

Ageing is a process – just adding a year is nothing and would never add any significance.  Just because a building was designed by a famous person, the building would not get any significance.

There was fire in Khalsa mahal in Chepauk – and in the unfortunate accident a firefighter died and another young lady suffered severe injuries.  Those who grieve for ancient structures, do not care to maintain them but expect the Govt to keep them as relics for ever, nay, if it is their property from which they can make a fortune.  The buildings in course of time become dilapidated and suffer from unsafe open wiring system of old.  The structure and the wooden pillars also get weakened in course of time. 

Chennai architecture is a confluence of many architectural styles.  The style that featured in the colonial era was the Indo-Saracenic style denoting the British influence in construction.  There are many including the buildings where Govt Agriculture Department is housed, you can even find some such houses in George Town, Mylapore, Triplicane areas. 

The Madras high court on Wednesday (4th Apr 12)  dismissed a petition against the demolition of the rear portion of the P Orr & Sons building on Anna Salai to make way for Metro Rail construction. It also censured the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) and fined Rs.5 lakh for the litigation, which stalled work on the transit system.

The Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M Venugopal stated that the complex had been inspected by a high-level committee, which specifically noted that its rear portion was not a heritage building. Taking exception to the fact that Intach, a member of the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), had filed the PIL opposing the report of the committee itself, the bench observed: “The petitioner (Intach) being a member of the HCC which has permitted Chennai Metro Rail Ltd to go on with the project, has taken a ‘U’ turn to illegally challenge the resolution, by entering into the shoes of the tenant of the building (when the original owner himself has no objection for the acquisition proceedings), thus indulging in corporal teasing and professional misconduct, betraying the trust and unnecessarily stalling a public project like the CMRL by filing this vexatious litigation.”
   one old building closer to P.Orr & sons

Consequently, the bench directed the Tamil Nadu government to remove Intach from the HCC and from any such other committees within two weeks, and fill up the vacancy/vacancies with more suitable candidates with proven standards in the field.  As for the claim that the rear portion of the building too was over a century old, the judges said the age of the building may be one of the criteria, but not the sole criterion to decide whether a particular structure is a heritage building or not. “No historical or important event attached to this rear portion of the building has been brought to our notice by counsel for the petitioner, except repeatedly arguing that this rear portion was also designed by Robert Chisholm, who developed the front portion.” In this regard, the judges pointed out that the committee did not recognize the rear portion of the building as a heritage structure. 

 the famous Hindu High School, Triplicane

Robert Fellowes Chisholm was a British architect who pioneered the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture in Madras.   Chisholm is credited with construction of Presidency College, Senate Buildings of University of Madras, P. Orr & Sons, Post & Telegraph Office and pavilion of MA Chidambaram Stadium, which perhaps is none of what was constructed then. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

1 comment:

  1. Mr.Sampath, this has nothing to do with this article. Since you are an insurance man I want to ask one doubt regarding the Enrico Lexie/ Prabhu Daya affair. If I had your e-mail id I would have written to you directly. I am hearing that the owners, of the two ships involved in two incidents where lives have been lost, are trying to settle the matters by out of court settlement with the families of the killed fishermen. I think it must be civil part of the case. Is it possible to settle the civil case without any reference to the Criminal case about the death of fishermen? How compensation can be paid before the criminal case is settled? Suppose if the case against the alleged killers could not be proved due to something or other then how the payment will be justified? In the case of Enrica Lexie the prosecution has to prove that such and such guns belonging to the marines has fired the fatal shot and killed the fishermen. I think the guns will have to be produced in the court also. Also the prosecution will have to prove conclusively that at the time of incident the ship was at the spot where the shooting has occurred. If the electronic data of the ships positions prove that the ship was not at that place how the marines can be punished? And how the payment will be justified. So too with Prabhu Daya. If it is not proved that the ship was at that spot where the collision has occurred how the ship can be accused of colliding with the boat? The dents and scratches on the hull of the ship could have happened at some other time. The pieces of net could have got entangled when the ship was going through that area where the boat had capsized earlier and the pieces of net were floating. My doubt is can the civil case settled before the criminal one is settled?