KUALA LUMPUR – Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz today stressed that the land surrounding the 110-year old Vivekananda Ashram building in Brickfields should be declared a national heritage site.
He said the National Heritage Department has once again offered the Vivekananda Ashram Board to gazette it as a national heritage site recently even though the offer made on Nov 13, 2008 was turned down.
“We are awaiting for a reply from the board to keep the historical site as it is more than 100 years old. We will also be meeting Federal Territories Minister (Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor) to discuss how to ensure the site is maintained and not to allow the developer to carry out any demolition of the historical building,” he told reporters after visiting the site in Brickfields, here today.
He said any artifacts and building structure which is more 100 years old is a national heritage.
Nazri said the ministry did not rule out the possibility of bringing the matter to court if discussions and efforts to keep the heritage site was not successful.
According to media reports, the Vivekananda Ashram board of trustees’ plan to redevelop the site in Brickfields into a 23-storey apartment had sparked off a spate of controversies including protests from the Indian community in the area.
The board of trustees defended their action that the move would provide funds for schools and charity homes under its care and for its future plans.
For the Indian community, the Swami Vivekananda Ashram is a symbol of its presence in the country with the first school built by Ashram in 1914.
On November 2, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the government cannot stop the project but rather can only advise the landowner to maintain the building. – BERNAMA