Campaign to preserve Kolkata’s architectural legacy launched

Kolkata, Feb 22 (IANS) Aimed at creating awareness on residential buildings outside of the heritage list and the diverse character they represent, a citizens’ initiative to stop demolition of old buildings and draw attention to the rapid destruction of architectural gems of the city was formally launched on Monday.

Titled “Calcutta Architectural Legacies” (CAL), the campaign aims to adopt a multi-pronged approach to deal with conservation issues.

“The campaign hopes to persuade the government and the citizens to act to prevent the disappearance of these neighbourhoods by demonstrating how it is to the city’s benefit to continue to use these houses innovatively,” said author Amit Chaudhuri, who is spearheading the effort.

Stakeholders include INTACH, conservation architect Partha Ranjan Das and other noted citizens who are working without any fee to contribute as much as possible to the campaign.

Das, a former member of the West Bengal Heritage Commission, is documenting some of the old neighbourhoods that are dotted with Raj-era structures in need of immediate attention.

A two-day programme called ‘Triptych’ will begin on February 26 celebrating the architectural legacies of two Kolkata neighbourhoods.

Artist Atul Dodiya will speak on the rapid destruction of Mumbai’s chawls while a group of house owners who do not want to sell their houses will be part of the discussion.

Publisher Naveen Kishore, who has frequently used existing old houses for his cultural and art activities, environmental activist Bonani Kakkar and Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI) president Sushil Mohta are the other speakers.

Organised with the support of Apeejay Surrendra Group and Oxford Bookstores, the event will be held at the picturesque old Hindustan Park house ‘Parna Kutir’.

Chaudhari began talking about a dedicated citizens’ movement in May 2015, with some distinguished citizens of Kolkata, supported by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.

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