Indian gov't takes steps towards heritage preservation before development

Indian gov't takes steps towards heritage preservation before development

2009/7/15

NEW DELHI, July 13 (Xinhua) -- The tourism industry for man-made and cultural heritage in India is picking up once again after showing a considerable decline in the wake of the global meltdown and the Mumbai terror attacks, said Indian Tourism Minister Kumari Selja in an interview here on Monday.

The government of India recently identified 22 heritage sites for mega tourism destination development. And the first step it took before the promotion of the sites was to allocate funds for the conservation of heritage in such places, she said.

One mega project is "Integrated Development of Amritsar as Manmade Heritage Destination", sanctioned at the cost of 15.8 billion rupees (350 million U.S. dollars). Its components include introduction of heritage walks and conservation of historic gates, said the minister.

Furthermore, mega projects in Himachal Pradesh such as "Eco and Adventure circuit of Kullu-Katrain-Manali" and in Haryana such as "Yamunanagar-Paonta Sahib" circuit have also been identified for heritage development.

Similarly, in an effort to have New Delhi named a UNESCO World Heritage City, the government is creating a heritage route connecting more than 30 historical monuments in the Indian capital.

"The route will come into existence before next year's Commonwealth Games and will be the first attempt to qualify the city for the prestigious title. The route will link at least 30 big and small historical monuments. The Delhi Heritage Route is designed to put the capital in the list of 220 heritage cities worldwide in a bid to preserve the city's 1,000-year old cultural and historical wealth," said Selja.

"This stretch of the Mathura Road has several important monuments like Feroz Shah Kotla, Purana Qila, the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and several smaller structures. These will be beautified with aesthetic landscaping, attractive signages, lights and fancy street furniture as well as cafes so that they become friendly spaces," she elaborated.

The pilot conservation project has been funded by the World Monuments Fund (WMF), which has pitched in with 200,000 U.S. dollars as a start-up grant.

New Delhi alone has more than 1,200 historical monuments, including three UNESCO World Heritage monuments. Success would result in Delhi receiving grants and the expertise of UNESCO for the maintenance and conservation of monuments and heritage sites.

Similarly, the central government is quite passionate at this point to save the cultural heritage of the country.

"Cultural heritage takes different tangible and intangible forms, all of which are invaluable for cultural diversity as the wellspring of wealth and creativity. Fragile and threatened by natural disasters and man-made conflicts, cultural heritage tends to lose its meaning and its transmission to future generations at times looks uncertain. For this reason, the protection of cultural heritage for future generations demands serious action," Selja said.

To preserve the cultural heritage such as arts, music and dance from the ravages of time is a specialized job, and not many are aware of its intricacies. Even artists - for whom each creation is equally cherished - are not usually equipped with the technical know-how required to preserve, protect and repair their works, the minister said.

"We are starting various schemes towards this. See the process is detailed and scientific, beginning with documentation of the state of the work and going on to digitalization," she said.

"Similarly, various folk music and dance forms as also age-old weaving and handicrafts in India which are threatened by industrial production also have a right to be considered as part of humanity's cultural heritage. We are very much alert to this," she added.                  
                                    Source: Xinhua     




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