Funding must for heritage preservation, say citizens
The city could now hope for protected heritage sites to cherish the monuments that have weathered centuries of changes and development. The Bangalore Development Authority's Draft Revised Master Plan-2031 imposes development restrictions in 12 heritage zones, apart from listing out 558 heritage sites for the first time.
Even though the move is being appreciated by citizens, a concern that some sites may face damage before they come under the protected label looms large. "It is a good move, but it needs proper implementation. For instance, there is nothing to preserve some sites on the outskirts of the city. By the time they come under the BDA's control, they might face serious damage," says Kalpan Haridas, a retired history professor.
She talks about a structure near Jakkur which is apparently under litigation and may face damage if not protected. "There is also a Nandi temple opposite Kadu Malleswara temple, which deserves a mention in the heritage list."
There is talk of involving the Archeological Society of India in the heritage preservation efforts. "but it needs to be made sure that funding is earmarked for preservation," reminds Haridas. "And then, there are some private residences in Richards Park mentioned in the list. The authorities must know that it's not easy to maintain these structures without funding."
In the words of Yadhu Krishnan, a city-based amateur poet, "While the initiative by the BDA is in the right direction, it does feel like they have wronged the ones who cared for these places thus far. No matter how minuscule the effort the fact that the place still stands deems them worthy of remuneration."
He wants BDA to procure these places and develop them as monuments in a sustainable manner. "The place shouldn't look up at the government for money. It should preferably be run by NGOs with the sole purpose of sustaining the structure for another 100 years," Krishnan says.
The mix of modern and the old is what makes Krishnan love Bengaluru. "I love this city. Love its fast pace, the drastically changing nature of the city's infrastructure, the diverse set of people who have come and live here. The places that stood the test of time have an important role to play in the history of Bangalore."
He sees a sense of adventure in discovering the heritage sites and a sense of nostalgia in knowing how things were before. "They record time in a way visible to our naked eye. They are to be protected. Then comes the question about what happens to the people who own these places."
There have been instances when a place or property grows to become something more than what the money represents. "The physical significance of the place grows beyond the capacity of what the owner perceives. It becomes symbolic in nature. Something everyone who toil and sweat in Bengaluru relates to," he explains.
For Madhu, a business development manager with an MNC, the restriction is a welcome move, but better involvement of citizens will help in effective implementation, "The BMRDA's decision to impose these restrictions comes as a welcome guide to a city that is growing constantly and consistently. However, many owners would also feel burdened by these restrictions. The government should consider this too," he says.
Divya Gangadhar, a teacher, urges people to accept the plan warmly. "The prohibition of construction around heritage sites under the RMP 2031 is a step taken in the right direction. In the rush to catch up with world-class urban development, there is a tendency to push sites of historical importance to the sidelines. Thus any attempt to safeguard the heritage of a city must be warmly welcomed and not with deep cynicism," she says.