West Bengal, being the home of ancient civilizations and a glorious history of freedom struggle , has a rich cultural heritage. This cultures are reflected in a the historical monuments, palaces, ruins of ancient civilizations, remnants of past cultural heritage of the civilizations destroyed by the natural calamities.
Previously there were some provisions for preservation and conservation of this heritage in the West Bengal Town and Country (Planning & Development) Act, 1979. Later in 1997 an expert Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Dr. Barun De and seven other eminent personalities.
The said Committee suggested for framing of comprehensive statutory provision by making necessary amendments in the West Bengal Town and Country (Planning & Development ) Act, 1979 and also to set up West Bengal Heritage Commission in order to supervise the modification, enlistment and maintenance of all Heritage Buildings, Monuments, Precincts and sites within the purview of entire State of West Bengal.
Accordingly the West Bengal Heritage Commission Act, 2001 has been enacted with effect from the 1st day of August, 2001. As per provisions of this Act the West Bengal Heritage Commission has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Pratap Chandra Chandra. The West Bengal Heritage Commission Rules has been framed in 2003. Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority is actively participating in the work of the said Commission. One Heritage Cell has been constituted within Municipal Planning Unit of KMDA. There are Planners and Planning Assistants in the said Cell.
In the Municipal and the Municipal Corporation Acts provisions for constitution of the Heritage Conservation Committee has been made. In Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the relevant Municipalities have constituted Municipal Heritage Conservation Committee in order to identify the Heritage Buildings and sites within the ULB area and to recommend their conservation to the West Bengal Heritage Commission.
In Kolkata the Heritage Conservation Committee, headed by the Municipal Commissioner of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, has already taken initiative in this regard and thus 163 buildings in Kolkata has been declared as Heritage Buildings, and documentation of around 200 buildings have been done out of identified buildings (1348) by the Expert Committee. Kolkata Municipal Corporation has already taken steps for restoration / renovation of different Heritage Buildings like the Town Hall, Prinsep Ghat, Metropolitan Building, Metcalfe Hall, Star Theatre, Vidyasagar House, Queens Mansion, Vivekananda House, Minerva Theatre etc.
Apart from the above efforts have been initiated by KMDA to conserve the heritage buildings in the Urban Local Bodies in KMA Area. In this effort 73 number of buildings in 14 Urban Local Bodies have been identified, and work for preservation of some buildings has already been taken up.
The State of West Bengal is rich with the heritage of old civilizations. Thus there exist a number of Heritage Buildings and Structures in, inter alia, the Urban areas of this State. The State Government in Department of Information and Cultural Affairs has enacted the West Bengal Heritage Commission Act, 2001 in order to constitute a Heritage Commission to take steps for preservation and conservation of Heritage Buildings and Structures located in this State. The Municipalities have also assigned a part in preservation and conservation of heritage of this State. As per provisions of section 23C of the West Bengal Municipal Act, 1993 the Municipality shall constitute a Heritage Conservation Committee with the members stipulated in sub-section (2) of the said section. The matter regarding conservation of the municipal building or any other building or site, considered as heritage building or site, has to be examined by the said Committee, and thereafter the said Committee shall send its recommendation regarding preservation and conservation of such heritage buildings to the West Bengal Heritage Commission, constituted under the West Bengal Heritage Commission Act, 2001, for taking final decision in the matter
Buildings with architectural
significance and traditional values are considered for
their preservation and conservation. These buildings
playing an important role in the history of the city of
Kolkata in particular and of the State in general
are-required to be classified and maintained properly.
For the purpose it has been realised that an inventory
of such buildings upon which the heritage status has
been conferred is to be undertaken. Through various
process and documentation stages in assistance with the
Expert Committee formed by the Government of West
Bengal, a list of such heritage buildings has been
prepared and being up-dated regularly.
Now during such enlistment of buildings some questions
by the owners of the listed heritage buildings and the
proposed heritage buildings are being mooted for some
time past. As such it has been decided to publish a
booklet dealing with the guidelines for perusal by the
owners of the heritage buildings.