Patna, Jun 19: Lamenting the loss of built heritage here in the past several decades, Bihar Finance Minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui has suggested saving historical buildings including Dutch-era Collectorate in the state capital and linking such structures with culture and tourism instead of dismantling them.
"Even till late 60s, Patna was a beautiful city and old buildings, from government bungalows to private houses, kothis and mansions dotting its streets were part of that charm. Unfortunately, with passage of time, we lost so many of them including the iconic Dak Bungalow.
Real estate explosion and rapid urbanisation has dealt a severe blow to the city's heritage," he said. In the absence of holistic preservation policy, several heritage properties in Patna, losing battle to modernity, gave way to high-rises and the latest to face the wrecking ball is the city's centuries-old Collectorate spanning Dutch and British history of the capital.
"I am of the view that old, historical buildings should be preserved for posterity. And, the Collectorate carries within its walls the Dutch and British history, besides being specimens of unique architecture of those eras.
Buildings like these should not be demolished but rather adaptively reused and linked with cultural activities and boosting heritage tourism and economy of Bihar. "That way, we get to keep our past, generate revenues and move towards the future.
It's a win-win situation and that way heritage buildings will become an asset rather than a liability they are generally seen as in the absence of upkeep," Siddiqui told PTI in an interview.
The 59-year-old state finance minister, who hails from the heritage city of Darbhanga, says, in Europe and the US, heritage tourism is a huge draw and a steady source of revenue, and Patna and rest of Bihar have the potential to adopt the same.
"After Independence, the successive state governments never really came up with any holistic policy for the city's heritage buildings, public or private, as a result, they kept disappearing one after another, as they were neither protected centrally or under the state archaeology department," he said.