New Delhi, July 2 : Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a nationwide non-profit organization founded to protect the common national heritage, will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Delhi Government's tourism department on Thursday.
"The MoU is a very significant step in the beginning of a partnership with the Delhi Government in the field of heritage. The first step is that we will be working towards the long term plan for getting Delhi declared as the World Heritage City," said S.K.Misra, Chairman of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.
He elaborated that the process involves a lot of exercise in various areas like Research. And, when it finally reaches the UNESCO to decide, it is to be shown what is being done.
"On the ground, we have this project for getting the areas from Humanyun's Tomb to Red Fort and area from Nizamuddin to Safdarjung and Qutub Minar all around to develop it as Heritage Tourism Circuit where it is properly designed in an integrated manner i.e the signages, furniture, billboard, small restaurants and also heritage buses. Presently, Delhi is not seen as a heritage city but as a taking off point for other cities," Misra said.
INTACH has been privileged to be offered to sign a MoU with Prince Charles by mid-July in London to work on certain projects to be carried out in India.
"Yes, Prince Charles has invited me to London. He wants to collaborate with INTACH on certain projects in India, where he will try to arrange for funds from the corporate and others. They have seen what INTACH has done and capable of. And, they feel that it will be beneficial for both the sides to join hands. So I'm going to sign MoU with Charles when I will be there during July 14 to 17. I will be having meeting with him and visiting various institutes run by him," Misra informed.
According to Professor A. G. Krishna Menon, Convenor of the INTACH Delhi chapter, making Delhi city a Heritage city is a established protocol of UNESCO.
"We have to make an application and show decisions what is the reason we want to make a World Heritage City. But significance to make a city a world heritage has to be defined and we will be defining that," Prof. Menon said.
"Instead of saying there are certain monuments here or there in the city, we have to show how it is important for us. That's why this development of heritage route is an important element. By connecting certain monuments by designing a road from Red Fort to Humanyun's Tomb and Safdarjung to Qutab Minar, we want to make people to recognize that they are going around a heritage area," he said.
"We have approached the Delhi Government with the idea what we would like to do. The first thing we did was to list them. We persuaded the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to make it a part of the Master Plan. Now we have approached the Delhi Govt. saying it should be made real and it is possible if the environment is designed accordingly," Prof. Menon said.
He elaborated that basically, it is urban design, landscape design, lighting, furniture design, landscape design, lighting and furniture design.
"All this is existing in the city but it if you orient it in a particular way, it will be recognized even by the citizens. It is regretful most of the people in Delhi don't recognize that they are living in a heritage city."
He also talked about the big misconception that conservation of heritage is anti-development.
"We believe that these are two sides of the same coin, not against each other. Heritage can be development focused and vice versa. So with these projects we are trying to show by developing these projects, we are going to make a more beautiful city, we make it a more usable city and in this process we will make monuments more accessible in the city," said Prof. Krishna Menon.
The INTACH, which was founded by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1984, is contributing to that endeavour by working to protect the common national heritage.
INTACH has been organized into 140 Chapters nation-wide with members who have over the years responded to threats to their local heritage in dramatic, imaginative and committed ways.
It addresses issues of local importance and alert their members to local conservation needs. y Sandeep Datta