The Zoning Regulations (Amendment) Act 2020 just notified focusing on Heritage framework and guidelines under the Town and Country Planning Act, is a strong step forward in the Heritage Protection in Karnataka. Read Gazette Notification here.
If there’s one thing and one thing only that heritage needs it is regulations and guidelines. From time immemorial heritage enthusiasts who have been standing up for crumbling walls, lakes and culture, this has been a constant refrain. During every point of confrontation, whether it was Balabrooie, Cubbon Park or Janatha Bazaar, the primary focus has been reactive and heavy on confrontation, energy and pointless, circuitous interaction. The #HeritageBeku Team ourselves have made it very clear that this series of interactions undermined the collective intelligence of Bangalore as well as wasted time & resources in backtracking. The most obvious and simple solution always was a framework which helped the government machinery define the role of heritage and the role of people in preserving it, going forward. To this purpose several meetings were held with many senior government officials including representations made to the chief secretary over two meetings, several letters and updates.
During the outarge around Cubbon Park with a seven story building apparently coming up, despite #HeritageBeku being on the forefront of the CubbonPark Ulisi campaign, they categorically stated that as a strategy, any future interactions would focus only on heritage from three persp-ectives -
Heritage Law, Heritage Education & Heritage Foundation. Clearly the Heritage Laws or Regulations are paramount and this was a single focus in every conversation and demand from the government, starting from our original online petition, a manifold and detailed objections to the revised master plans 2031, as well as our letters and petitions to the government. As a citizen initiative #HeritageBeku is very keen to ensure that a non-partisan yet passionate group of citizens with a strong interest in the cities heritage can create a collaborative wraparound and direction to a sustained and driven preservation of heritage.
There have been many attempts at either a law or planning regulations permutations and combinations have been mooted over the last 15 years and have been discarded, shelved or put into cold storage. Heritage Veterans like Naresh Narasimhan, earlier BATF, Intach, Sanjay Sridhar and Ashwin Ramesh have been part of a long journey. Therefore it was particularly interesting to see the UDD notification of the zonal planning regulations duly notified yesterday which covered the scope of Heritage regulations in the state.The original gazette was apparently listed in September 2019 , but strangely most of us never saw the draft , let alone had the opportunity to react or give suggestions on that .
A quick once over of this document does not permit us to go into sufficient detail and understanding of the finer details, implications and legal impact of this document. Its quite a comprehensive document covering all aspects of heritage, spatial contiguity and several controls in place. The Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) seems to be given apparent weight and authority, but still has a largely advisory role. However a few top level takeaways which wee truly appreciated all the efforts that have been made to make heritage strong and intrinsic component of planning the city, be it the master plan or any changes and modifications and heritage zones. The effort to create a Heritage Fund to preserve and promote heritage is also notable and clearly shows that the authorities are listening to the citizens, particularly the detailed notes that Heritage Beku had presented in its RMP31 Objections as well as the several letters written to the chief secretary and other senior government officials on the subject. The concern however does remain with the unique composition of the Heritage Conservation Committee for Bangalore limited to the original Arts Commission as defined by Section 51 of the The BDA 1976 laws, and the BDA being the de facto Heritage Conservation Committee in charge given its Planning Authority status. The concept of transferable development rights or TDS has not been detailed and needs to be re-looked at given Bengaluru's unique situation, the TDR issue will be a rather complicated and knotty , which we would far rather avoid. We will update this article as and when information is received and the Heritage Beku Team has some time to apply itself to the framework and dealing with this definitive step forward by the government.
We would certainly like to express our appreciation that the government has listens intently to citizens concerned about heritage, and evaluated its own critical role in preserving the the intangible and tangible heritage of our beloved state. We are confident that with partnership with several heritage organizations, conservationists, historians academics, citizen initiatives like #HeritageBeku and so many others, we will certainly have a resurgence and greater ownership for conserving and promoting Hetitage for a beloved city and state.
Updates and suggestions from experts
@Champaka Rajagopal (Professor and Urban Planner)
1. Composition of Heritage Committee:
Include two civic representatives, an urban designer, urban planner, elected representatives from the city (BBMP) and state government to ensure commitment.
2. Powers and functions of the committee.
The committee presently has only advisory role. Ascribe executive powers to the committee by including elected representatives from the BBMP. The committee must prepare a heritage conservation and adaptive reuse framework, remedial framework for structures of importance under threat, zonal regulations in the RMP and monitoring and evaluation framework for implementation. Entrust role for the committee in monitoring of execution and evaluation of outcomes. Any changes to methods adopted for listing of structures, compensation, etc., must be approved by the committee.
3. Point no.2: In cases where master plans have incorporated zonal regulations for heritage conservation through a consultative process with civil society, such as in Bengaluru, it is imperative that the master plan supersedes this Gazette Notification.
4. Point no. 7: Provide incentives to private owners in the form of tax relief or other monetary benefits.