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.
@Laxmi Nagaraj , Urban Planner
First of all it only applies to places declared as “heritage”. Declaring places as “heritage” itself is a HUGE task
2. There are several reservations cited with no clarity.
3. Composition of the committee Government heavy, civil engineer should be expert in conservation of structures and conservation techniques, Forest Dept representative should also be there and environmentalist with sustainability and conservation expertise and most important QUALIFIED urban planners and urban designers with experience ( not Government employees working in BDA, BBMP etc). BDA has power to appoint two additional non members, they could even be appointed under this provision
4. Committee has to recommend grading into grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3 which itself is a HUGE task
5. Criteria is so GENERAL, with Government heavy committee everything can be over ruled.
6. The best part - Development permission to be given by Planning Authority which I am assuming is BDA and/or Karnataka Town and Country Planning which do not have any staff who can understand the nuances of these regulations and accordingly give approval. This is where “capacity building” that I was talking about earlier comes in. They have to be trained.
7. More emphasis is on repairing, altering, adding rather than conservation
8. No implementation and enforcement mentioned at all.
9. Public participation lightly mentioned but not strongly emphasised.
This is like all the regulations I have reviewed in India that are too general with not enough “ teeth” for it to be a strong document that can be relied on
It does mention buildings under control of PWD etc to be declared heritage but there may be other contradicting regulations that may allow them to do what they want and residential owners have to maintain at their own expense. The reason they sell or demolish is that they can’t maintain. My comments are very critical but this is my reaction whenI see how casually policies are developed.
@Prof Yashaswini Sharma ,HOD Dayanand College of Architecture
A few points to be considered:
1. A bureaucrat mustn't head a HCC. It effectively puts committee in Govt control.
2. There are too many Govt officials in the HCC
3. TDR needs to be carefully monitored
4. Grade I & II Heritage buildings with private owners could be allowed to use the structure for hospitality keeping in mind heritage norms. When it is used for commercial purpose, it should effectively be used for boutique shops and the like which didn't strain the structure much.
5. Incentives to private owners need to be formulated in a better manner aiming of course to help them maintain the structure.
6. A list of experts with heritage expertise must be made available so that even private owners know whom to approach when any maintenance work is required.
7. Structural engineer in the HCC must have expertise in Heritage Conservation
8. More than one Heritage Conservation architect should be part of committee ideally
Further pointers on next steps and structure from Ms @Champaka Rajagopal
Institutional arrangements: Organizational structures and regulations
People: Competencies and capacity to address complexities of heritage conservation
Data: Method and criteria for listing and documentation of heritage structures
Systems: Technology geoportal- for transparency and contracts - so that incompleteness in contracts do not derail the data and implementation processes.
It would be imperative that the Zonal Regulations for Heritage Conservation are taken further to elaborate these four dimensions with clarity. Considering that we are now in the nascent stage, the most important aspect would be to define the institutional arrangements. As Professor. Vasavada has sharply pointed, there are two issues: One, of taking cognizance of pre-existing institutions (Bangalore Arts Commission) and perhaps building upon them (or permanently dissolve it). Two, of establishing regulatory incentives (which can easily become manipulatively used). A third, is what you and I discussed, to emphasize, a collective responsibility for heritage, as it belongs to the city. To this end, institutional arrangements, must explain clearly, the obligations and voluntary responsibilities of the state and local government organizations, social responsibilities of private agencies, social responsibilities of civil society representatives and any other organizations involved (each one specifically, along with possible scenarios for purpose of communication and communication protocols between them - these must be anticipated by the Heritage Committee and drafted in meticulous detail - however, this will not be set in cement - it is a dynamic document subject to change within some essential non negotiable principles of heritage conservation); the proceedings of these must be available as public access, ideal (the danger is that scrutiny makes government officers and others risk averse).
On regulations, it is important that the Zonal Regulations not just show regulations but infact, regulatory processes. What will be the process of implementing these regulations and how can we make sure those are in the right direction and interest of heritage conservation, which is value driven, not merely money led. These processes need to be reflected in the organizational structures above and roles and responsibilities of each organization.
For the initial discussions with Town Planning these are the main points, as we are in the nascent stage. If Town Planning has already deliberated on these through the last ten years, it would be great to know what they have considered viable for the city. HB's role may be to assist TP department to facilitate and organize one such workshop, to establish the initial composition of the Heritage Committee, get in principle commitment from private organizations and deliberate on the roles and responsibilities/ chart out the scenarios for communication protocols.
@Prof Rabindra Vasavada- Architect, Professor, Expert
The guide lines included here for criteria for evaluation and categories of listing and on various aspects of heritage conservation guidelines - are all important area of concern and it is now always better to follow international UNESCO and our own INTACH Charter. UNESCO has done huge amount of background work which can be very useful to follow. This has to be partly reformulated in our context and accepted as a basis for our regulations.
The listing and grading criteria mentioned are a carry forward Of what is followed in other states. What is missing is a standard format for listing as this is very important for actual follow up. INTACH Delhi has a standard format which is accepted nationally and this should be included.
The composition of Heritage Committee in the state also appears too complex with a list of about 21 members overall. I can never understand how effective such a committee would be with an officer of the level of Deputy Commissioner heading it. I am not sure whether some of the members would be of higher level than such a head! The other issue is the kind of composition and the level of experience stated for members. I feel such a Committee would only be a formality to follow but will have no authority to safeguard the heritage. The idea of assigning additional task of functioning as Heritage Committee to the already existing Bangalore Arts Commission with additional members may not be a good idea. I feel the roles and responsibilities of both may not be similar. This can also result in confusion of goals. For Bangalore there has to be a very strong HCC with authority not only to recommend but also execute.
The most important point of incentives is really relegated to simple mentions. This would really require tremendous attention. TDR seems like a standard solution as a master stroke though this is the most dangerous proposal but favourite solution with all authorities! It has failed in Bombay, Ahmedabad and is no solution unless honestly, seriously controlled. It can be misused. This aspect which is most important is simply not attended with seriousness. The allowable change of land use into commercial is also a dangerous incentive without very carefully controlled reuse as only home-stay with B&B and never commercial hotels or restaurants!! I think this aspect needs very careful thought. This can also lead to serious gentrification! In Ahmedabad I had suggested that this entire aspect be handled by a Trust with authority to manage the heritage. Incentives can really be a matter of deep malpractice too. This is a very serious point requiring multiple inputs.
In Ahmedabad in my experience I had worked specifically on the guidelines for the historic city which were worked out to safeguard the Outstanding Universal Values. These were accepted partially by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority for their proposed Master Plan 2021. But this still is waiting to be transformed in the detailed Heritage Regulations. So you can appreciate how peripheral is the interest of the authorities in sincerely pursuing the Heritage Conservation.
In an overall review of the present document you have given, I would summarise separately as bullets and send you separately. I still think that doing so may not really make much difference as what needs careful consideration is the entire document which needs a very careful draft which also meets with the standard of international practices in heritage conservation.
Suggestions on Heritage Regulations for Karnataka (As requested by Priya Chetty-Rajagopal and Sanjay Sridhar on April 26th April 2020) Rabindra J Vasavada: Architect (firstname.lastname@example.org) The following points are suggested to be considered, besides the one explained above: 2.1 The Committee appears to be very large and its leadership appears to be not empowered by a senior level officer of the government. The other members included also appear not experienced enough to sit on this important committee. Bangalore must have an empowered separate Heritage Conservation Committee with executive authority 4. Criteria for Listing: What is the source of this criteria? There is a standard established earlier by INTACH Delhi. Is this referred? This must help establish the ‘value’ of heritage. 6. Restrictions on development, re-development, repairs etc.: This aspect really needs very careful considerations from Conservation Experts and shall be discussed within the committee before finalising the regulations. This will address to the basic issue of Conservation Policy and approach. 11. TDR: This is a very serious issue and shall be very carefully addressed as it is highly vulnerable to malpractices. 12. Incentives: Change of land use need to be very carefully defined. It would only include commercial so as not to disturb the fabric of the heritage property. Normally only Homestay with B&B and small tourism related commercial is preferred. No other functions would be sympathetic. 13. guidelines for visual integrity and the aspects affecting the location and setting of the heritage property need to be well defined considering the category of heritage. 14. The Repair fund could be created by the local authority; it is very important that each local authority has a Heritage Conservation Department to manage all the aspects of conservation. Normally the local Authority can earmark a budget for repairs and the Heritage Department shall have the required manpower under a Conservation Architect to undertake such works and also monitor the status of heritage structures. 15. Under the current practices adopted by the Government, CSR funds could be diverted towards conservation works. Public Private partnership models also could be explored by the Local Authorities which could be managed by the Heritage Department. I feel the creation of Heritage Department under each local authority is very important to support the Heritage Conservation Committees (HCC) at District levels. This Department works under the HCC and the Local Authority to implement the suggestions coming from the HCC and Local Authority. The Heritage Department is also empowered to manage all aspects of Heritage Conservation under the Local Authority. The structure of this department could be worked out depending on the requirements of heritage conservation. But this is an important addition to the Local Authority.
The other State departments, like PWD and administration have to facilitate the Heritage Department in its functioning, however, the control of all the conservation related works shall be placed under the Heritage Department.
-Rabindra J Vasavada Architect FRAS
Architecture, Conservation and Historic Building Restoration.
Former Founder Professor and Head: Post Graduate Programme in Architecture and Settlement Conservation, Faculty of Architecture, Head: Centre for Conservation Studies, CRDU, CEPT University
Ahmedabad 380009 India
Former Head: Technical Committee of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for UNESCO World Heritage City Dossier for Historic City of Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad was inscribed on World Heritage List in July 2017.
Former Adviser: Ahmedabad World Heritage City Trust Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.
Inputs from Veena Krishnan, Lawyer
NOTE ON ZONAL REGULATIONS (AMENDMENT) 2020
The Zonal Regulations (Amendment) 2020 have been framed under the provisions of Section 13E of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961 ("KTCPA").
Section 2(11) of the KTCPA defines the term "regulation" as zonal regulations governing land use made under the KTCPA. Section 13E of the KTCPA gives the State Government the power to make amendments to the regulations. Therefore the Zonal Regulations (Amendment) 2020 constitute an amendment to the zonal regulations pertaining to land use made by various Planning Authorities such as the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA), Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Area Planning Authority (BMICAPA), Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority (BIAAPA), etc.
Regulation 1(3) of the Zonal Regulations (Amendment) 2020 states that the said Regulations are applicable to heritage sites, heritage buildings, heritage precincts and natural features declared as such under the provisions of Section 2(1ea) and Section 2(1eb) of the KTCPA.
Section 2(1ea) defines the term "Heritage Building" as a building possessing architectural, aesthetic, historic or cultural values which is declared as a heritage building by the Planning Authority or any other competent authority within whose jurisdiction such building is situated.
Section 2(1eb) defines the term "Heritage Precinct" as an area comprising heritage building or buildings and precincts thereof or related places declared as such by the Planning Authority or any other competent authority within whose jurisdiction such area is situated.
It should be noted that the final decision of what is a Heritage Building or a Heritage Precinct rests with the jurisdictional Planning Authority. However, the Zonal Regulations (Amendment) 2020 empower the Planning Authority to declare these details based on the advice of the Heritage Conservation Committee.
The terms "Heritage Sites", "Heritage Buildings", "Heritage Precincts" and "Natural Features" are referred to Regulation 1(3). However neither the Zonal Regulations (Amendment) 2020 nor the KTCPA define the terms "Heritage Precincts" and "Natural Features".
Regulation 2 provides for the appointment of a Heritage Conservation Committee (the "Committee") for Heritage Buildings and Heritage Precincts for all districts except Bengaluru. As regards Bengaluru, the Regulations prescribe that the Art Commission constituted under the provisions of Section 51 of the Bangalore Development Authority Act, 1976 shall constitute the Heritage Conservation Committee. However, Section 51 does not prescribe any details such as number of the members, tenure, etc. of the Art Commission which appears to have been wound up in the year 2002.
Regulation 2 prescribed the tenure and quorum for the meetings of the Committee. It is not clear if these provisions are applicable to the Art Commission as well.
Regulation 2(2) empowers the Committee to "prepare a list of buildings, artefacts, structures, areas, precincts of historic, aesthetic, architectural, cultural or environmental significance and a supplementary list of natural features of environmental significance or scenic beauty including sacred groves, hills, hillocks, water bodies (and the areas adjoining the same), open areas, wooded areas etc., to which these regulations shall apply from time to time, and grade them according to the heritage value". It is not clear if stand-alone trees that do not form part of a grove/garden are also included within this provision. Further this Regulation does not specifically empower the Committee to frame policies in respect of natural heritage such as groves, hills, trees, water bodies, etc.
Regulation 3 calls upon the Planning Authority to notify the list of Heritage Structures, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Precincts and additions thereto based on the advice of the Committee. However no specific timeline as been denoted for the completion of this process.
Regulations 4 and 5 prescribe the criteria for listing and classifying Heritage Buildings, Heritage Precincts, etc. However, no criteria have been prescribed for listing and classification of groves, hills, trees, water bodies, etc. Regulation 4(k) sets out "Natural Heritage Sites" as one of the criteria for classification. It is not clear if groves, hills, trees and water bodies would fall under this classification.
Column 3 of Regulation 5(d) [which is applicable to buildings and precincts of important townscapes] provides for development permission to be granted by the Planning Authority based on guidelines to be framed by the Government in consultation with the Committee. There are no timelines issued for this process.
Regulation 6 states that "no development or re-development or engineering operations or additions or alterations or repairs or renovation, including the painting of buildings, replacement of special features or plastering or demolition of any or part thereof of the enlisted buildings, precincts and natural features, including the compound wall, shall be allowed, except with the prior written permission of the Local Planning Authority, in accordance with these regulations". The second proviso states that only in exceptional cases, for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Planning Authority may refer the matter back to the heritage conservation committee for reconsideration. The second proviso is not clear. Does it refer to those cases where permission is not granted by the Local Planning Authority?
Regulation 8 inter alia states that in case of Heritage Precincts and Natural Features, where it is deemed necessary by the Committee, development permission in the form of commencement certificate shall be granted in accordance with separate guidelines prescribed for the respective precincts or natural features, which shall be framed by the Archaeology, Museums and Heritage Department (AM&HD) in consultation with the local authority, on the advice of the committee. It is not clear if this commencement certificate would be issued for development or re-development of the Heritage Precincts and Natural Features. Further, insofar as natural features such as hills, water bodies, rocks, etc. are concerned, the provisions of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act as regards usage of kharab land would prevail over and above the provisions of these Regulations and the KTCPA. Further, there is a reference to separate guidelines to be framed by the AM&HD in consultation with the Local Authority on the advice of the Committee. The term "Local Authority" which is different from the Planning Authority such as BDA, BMRDA, etc., is defined under Section 2(3a) of the KTCPA as "a municipal corporation, municipal council, Town Panchayat or Grama Panchayat; and a local authority is a ‘local authority concerned’ if any land within its local limits falls in the area of a plan prepared or to be prepared under the KTCPA". Therefore, the reference to the term "local authority" would mean the BBMP or similar authority. The term "local authority" is used in a few other instances in the Regulations. The functions of the Planning Authority and the Local Authority require to be properly bifurcated and clarified.
The provisions of these Regulations would appear to prevail over and above the provisions of the KTCPA and the Master Plan, in case of any conflict. One example would be with respect to Regulation 9 which states that any road widening or building line shall be in accordance with these Regulations.
Regulation (3) states that "no widening of the existing roads under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961 or Master Plan shall be carried out in a manner which may affect the existing heritage buildings (even if they are not included in a heritage precinct) or which may affect the enlisted natural features". The term "natural features" requires clarity. Does it include trees?
Regulation 10 refers to Master Plan reservations on Heritage Buildings or Precincts. This term is not defined under the KTCPA or under the Regulations.
Regulation 11 refers to the grant of Transferable Development Rights (TDR) in case of loss of Development Rights. More clarity would be required on the criteria for grant of TDR, the extent of TDR that would be granted, etc.