DAP vice-chair M Kulasegaran welcomed the decision of the National Heritage Commission to gazette the 110-year-old Vivekananda Ashram as a heritage asset and urged its trustees not to appeal the decision.

The MP for Ipoh Barat disclosed that Heritage commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim had on June 24  notified the ashram trustees of the government’s intention to gazette the building as per Section 31 of the National Heritage Act 2005.

“Having made our decision after hearing both parties and notifying the trustees of our intention (to designate site as heritage), as well as informing them of the dos and don’ts, we are now proceeding to our next step which is to publish our intention in the Gazette and a local newspaper,” Zainah told the Star Metro in a text message.

Kulasegaran welcomed this decision but remained sceptical that the fight to save the ashram located in Brickfields from plans for its redevelopment proposed by its trustees was over.

He said the ashram’s trustees have 30 days to appeal after the notice of the gazette has been published.

He noted that despite the public protests staged by the Indian community in Brickfields and elsewhere, the trustees have stuck to their stance of wanting the area in which the ashram stands to be redeveloped.

Kulasegaran and other DAP leaders, together with social activists from NGOs concerned with Indian issues, had objected to the redevelopment plans on grounds that these would irrevocably alter the character of the place.

As a reflection of the trustees’ disposition, they had on March 19 submitted a letter of objection to the Heritage Department a day before the deadline for objections to the plans of department to declared the ashram a heritage site.

Kulasegaran urged the board to accede to the wishes of the Indian community to preserve the site rather than redevelop it.

He said he was prepared to raise the issue in Parliament at its next sitting if efforts at preserving the site falter.