Construction allowed inside Victoria Memorial

New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday permitted construction of an administrative block inside the premises of the Victoria Memorial, the British era monument, in Kolkata.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan, however, cautioned the secretary and curator of the heritage building to ensure that basic architectural design of the building is not altered during the new construction.

The bench gave its order on a lawsuit by Victoria Memorial’s curator, who had come to the apex court challenging an August 2009 order of the Calcutta High Court, scrapping a proposal to build a new administrative block inside the building.

The high court ruled that any new construction would be detrimental to the historical structure and the memorial’s authority could construct new buildings in other places according to legal provisions.

The Victoria Memorial authorities wanted to begin the construction of the administrative block as per the proposal by a London-based NGO. The proposal envisaged that the new block, covering 2,800 sq metre, house the memorial’s administrative department as well as a conference hall, auditorium and other facilities.

Opposing the plea, environmentalist Subhas Dutta had argued that the proposed administrative building could be constructed at a separate place. According to the Victorial Memorial Hall Act, 1903, there was no bar on any other construction in a separate place, Dutta’s counsel had argued.

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