‘Puducherry makes a good start for heritage tag certification’

PUDUCHERRY: Unesco director (New Delhi) Eric Falt said any government ambitious of getting ‘heritage city’ certification from the international organization must bring together the civil society and private agencies and work in tandem to achieve the goal.

He was here on Saturday to participate in a one-day conference on ‘Road to Unesco nomination’ organized by the Puducherry town and country planning department and Puducherry planning authority in association with the Indian national trust for art and cultural heritage (Intach), Puducherry chapter.

“It is important to bring together civil society. The government, of course, must lead. The civil society must be fully supported. It is also important to involve the private sector. It will take some time. We made all aware of the challenges ahead,” Falt told reporters after the conference.

“I am here to give a few suggestions as we do in other parts of the country for anybody who is interested in the nomination process. We wish you well. You are to a good start, but it will take time,” he said.

Chief secretary Ashwani Kumar said the government will commence the process of creating an inventory that will be projected for the ‘heritage site’ certifications from the international agency.

“It is a technical work. It must be researched and fine-tuned. There are a lot of challenges within the country. We must borrow ideas from the already successful heritage sites like Ahmedabad and Jaipur. The template is available, and we have to modify it based on our unique selling points and create our own template,” Kumar said.

He said the town and country planning department will prepare a dossier, take all stakeholders on board, hold discussions at various levels and fine-tune the proposal before presenting it to the government.

Secretary (town and country planning) K Mahesh also underscored the importance of the involvement of the local community in achieving the goal.

“The involvement of the local community is the key to the success of the project. It started in Ahmedabad in 1998. Another important issue is we may be certified as the world heritage site but to sustain and maintain the certification will certainly be a very big challenge without the community’s support. The purpose of this conference is to involve all the stakeholders and experts in achieving our goal,” Mahesh said.

Earlier addressing the conference Falt outlined the guidelines for nomination under the world heritage city. FRAS architect Rabindra Vasavada enlightened the audience on how Ahmedabad was nominated as the first Unesco world heritage city in India.

CEPT University professor (planning) Saswat Bandyopadhyay gave an insight on the heritage-based city development programme in India while Intach co-convenor Ashok Panda and architect A Arul listed out the trust’s efforts towards heritage preservation in Puducherry and IIT Madras associate professor (civil) Arun Menon spoke on ‘retrofitting’ of heritage buildings.

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