Protection of heritage sites: Tough task ahead of City Corporation

The city is developing in a galloping way and it seems to be difficult for two important government departments-the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) to check the further growth.

Everybody will agree that the city's heritage is under grave threat , thanks to negligence on the part of MCC. All these years the civic body gave permission for the coming up of concrete buildings in and around the heritage structures, unmindful of its effect. Now the situation is that it is not possible to remove the modern structures which have marred the heritage monuments. The best example has been the majestic Mysore Palace and Jagan Mohan Palace to name a few. It is not that there were no rules to deny permission to construct ugly structures near the heritage monuments, but the officials concerned had no will to protect them.

After spoiling the beauty of almost all the heritage monuments, now the State government, MCC and MUDA are talking of their protection. A three-day international conference held in the city since last Saturday stressed on the protection of heritage beauty of the city. But the beauty is that the government has failed to formally approve a list of heritage monuments that need to be protected by enacting suitable laws.

The proposal to this effect has been pending before the government for many years. Taking undue advantage of delay in enacting suitable law, the people are constructing ugly concrete structures. Even the hands of MCC are tied as they are not in a position to deny permission for any building in the close vicinity of the heritage monuments, due to absence of conservation laws.

The happy thing now is Indian Heritage Cities Network is opening its office in the city to assist the MCC and MUDA in the process of protection of heritage monument. But the question here is whether it is too late as the situation has gone beyond repairable stage. The heritage tag being given to Mysore seems to be for name-sake as it lost its heritage look long long ago. All the good old roads that were reflecting the heritage look are dotted by ugly concrete structures. There is no trace of heritage in most of the roads. Huge multi-storied buildings have come up on the old structures. Now people have become commercial and they tend to see anything from the commercial angle. The only road which still boasts of heritage look is New Sayyaji Road-the procession route of the world-famous Dasara procession. Despite modern building here and there, still this road has housed several old type houses which are reminiscences of old city of Mysore.

Concrete action

What is needed is a concrete action plan which would check further spoiling of the city. The government's role is very important in this as it is vested with power to enact suitable laws that would check modern structures from coming up in the vicinity of heritage monuments. The reason why the Pink City of Jaipur still beckons tourists is that it has preserved its heritage and has put brakes on modern structures.

That commitment is not seen in Karnataka. The slogan 'One State but many worlds' is a mere slogan without bringing it into action. In the name of modernity, heritage is being neglected. Once heritage is lost it is not possible to recreate.

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