KUALA LUMPUR: The Vivekananda ashram in Brickfields and its surrounding land have been gazetted as a heritage site, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said.
He said the Government had rejected the appeal by the board of trustees of the ashram who were against gazetting the building and land as heritage site.
"Even though it is a heritage site, the owner of the land is in charge of the site. No financial help will be given to them by the Government," Nazri said in reply to M Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) in Parliament.
Nazri later told reporters that under Section 96, the decision on the ashram as a heritage site was final.
"After this, I've asked the Jabatan Warisan Negara to gazette the site.
"If they want to make changes to the building or land, or if they want to do something to it, they must meet the heritage commissioner.
"Case is closed," he said.
Nazri added that Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor made things easier for the government to reach the decision.
The trustees had first tried to sell the land about 26 years ago and made another attempt 11 years ago for RM15mil but both were aborted after public protests.
Heritage Commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim told StarMetro in July that the department had notified the trustees on the Government’s intention to gazette the building as per Section 31 of the National Heritage Act 2005.
The trustees had 30 days to appeal after the notice was published.
If no appeals were received within 30 days, the department would proceed to file a notice with the Land Office for the ashram to be classified a heritage site.
However, with the trustees’ appeal, the decision lies solely with Nazri, who has the final say over the matter.
The news generated a public outcry and the Government was urged to step in and stop the trustees from going ahead with the project.
Following protests, the Heritage Commission had on Jan 14, notified the trustees of its intention to designate the building.
However, the trustees rejected the government’s proposal and subsequently a hearing was held to hear their appeal.
After the most recent plans were revealed, more than 100,000 signatures were collected to oppose the ashram’s redevelopment.
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