Govt apathy hinders Delhi's heritage city bid

Despite its rich heritage, Delhi is yet to get the coveted UNESCO ‘heritage city’ tag.

Archaeologists from the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) believe that Delhi, which boasts of three World Heritage Sites, namely  Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb should have pitched for the tag much before the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

“Delhi has made it to the tentative list of UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Heritage Cities but it is not confirmed,” said an ASI official.

Rohit Jigyasu, senior advisor at the Indian Institute for Human Settlement considers this as a positive step forward.

Challenges

“But there are several challenges as they have identified only four to five areas which will determine whether Delhi can get the tag. A bigger challenge will be earmarking the boundaries of these areas which include Mehrauli, New Delhi, Nizamuddin and Shahjahanabad,” he said.

In the New Delhi zone, preserving the architectural character and open spaces must be the priority, while in Shahjahanabad, improving the delivery of urban services should top the list, added Jigyasu.

“The conservation can only succeed by being inclusive and enabling cities to become better places to live in,” he said.

He said there are several other roadblocks which are preventing Delhi to become a heritage city.

“Delhi does not have legislations and policies which recognise the city’s values.
“The state government has not been able to identify the unique elements and outstanding universal values yet,” he said.

Multiple agencies

An INTACH official said that the multiple agencies like Delhi Development Authority, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, New Delhi Municipal Corporation, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation need to work in tandem for the city.

“It is difficult to separate these zones and important for these agencies to sit across the table to discuss how they can work together,” said the official.

Experts are also of the view that India should not aim at getting global recognition till the time country recognises its own heritage.

“The government will only get a feel good factor with its new agenda of giving Delhi a tagline.

“Laws and guidelines will help us achieve what we want,” added Jigyasu.

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