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‘All buildings of British rule are not worthy of protection’, got approval from Supreme Court… Now this 350 year old building of Bihar can be demolished

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New Delhi/Patna: ‘Not every colonial building needs to be preserved.’ Supreme court Saying this on Friday, gave approval for the demolition of the 350-year-old building of Patna Collectorate. This building was used by the British in their time as a warehouse for the storage of opium and salt. Earlier, the decision of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Patna Chapter to demolish the building was challenged in the Supreme Court. It claimed that the building was an essential part of the city’s culture and heritage that should be preserved and restored rather than demolished. The state government had issued demolition orders on 31 July 2019 to replace the dilapidated structure with a new one, but the Supreme Court in September 2020 ordered status quo to be maintained.

Court did not agree with the argument of the petitioner to retain the building
A bench of Justices Dhananjay Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant observed that ‘we have a large number of buildings from the colonial era. Some are from the British era, the Dutch era and even the French era. There may be buildings of historical importance that can be preserved but not all buildings. The Bihar government, through senior advocate Maninder Singh, submitted that the building was in dilapidated condition and posed a serious threat to the people. The state further told the court that the Bihar Urban Arts and Heritage Commission had approved the demolition of the Collectorate premises on June 4, 2020. In 1972, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted a survey in Bihar and identified 72 sites that were worthy of historical monument. Even at that time, Patna Collectorate Bhavan was not included in this list.
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Know what the Supreme Court said
The Supreme Court said, ‘What heritage can this building have. From the pictures given to us, we can guess that its roof has collapsed in many places. Even the ASI has said that it has no heritage value. It was a godown which was used by the British to store salt and opium. The court gave examples such as the jail where freedom fighters were kept in jail during the freedom struggle which are of historical importance and need to be protected. Describing the present building, the Court observed that ‘this building endangers the safety of innocent citizens. How many human lives do you want to risk by keeping this structure?’

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