Conservation of built heritage included in Delhi Master Plan

Posted By: PTI
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New Delhi, Jun 22: The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has dedicated a chapter on conservation of built heritage in the city's master plan, a step that is likely to prove a boon for "unprotected" monuments and buildings in the national capital.

As part of its efforts to preserve the city's architectural fabric, DDA has identified six heritage zones and designated three archaeological parks in the Master Plan for Delhi, 2021.

"A separate chapter on 'Conservation of Built Heritage' has been included in the Master Plan, 2021, which envisions protection of civic and urban heritage, historic gardens and architecturally-significant historical landmarks, among others," Chief Architect of DDA, Vinod Dhar, told PTI.

The agencies concerned with the protection of such structures and sites are ASI, Delhi government, the state archaeology department, New Delhi Municipal Council, the three municipal corporations of Delhi, Cantonment Board and DDA.

The six zones identified are the specific heritage complexes within the Walled City of Delhi, Shahjahanabad; Lutyens Bungalow Zone; Nizamuddin and Humayun's Tomb complex; Mehrauli area; Vijay Mandal-Begumpur-Sarai Shahji-Lal Gumbad and Chirag Delhi, Dhar said.

"Besides, Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Tughlaqabad Archaeological Park and Sultan Garhi Archaeological Park have also been designated in the master plan," he said.

The surveys conducted by DDA and INTACH have identified 1,208 historical monuments in Delhi of which 170 have been declared as protected sites by Archaeological Survey of India.

In addition, the three MCDs, NDMC and the state archaeological department have also listed their own heritage buildings.

"The vision of DDA, apart from providing housing facilities for citizens, is to safeguard the built and bio- heritage of the city. And, with a 'heritage cell' now to be formally constituted, it will only add to the efforts envisioned by our Heritage Foundation earlier," a senior DDA official said.

DDA's effort towards heritage conservation began only in 1993 with the urban authority naming an annual 'DDA Urban Heritage Award', which it offered till 1997.

The award was aimed at encouraging the preservation of both public and private heritage buildings. But, in 1999, it established a full-fledged Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation (DUHF) with the Lt Governor as its chairman, and the body instead started providing aid for preservation of heritage buildings.

Among the prized heritage projects funded by the DDA is the painstaking restoration of the ex-Viceregal Lodge Estate, currently the office of Delhi University's Vice-Chancellor, at a cost of over Rs 3.5 crore some years ago, the senior official said. 

Earlier this week, at a meeting presided over by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, DDA decided to set up a heritage cell under DUHF to roll out the vision of the Foundation.

Its Vice Chairman, Balvinder Kumar, meanwhile, said, "The heritage cell is likely to be set up by next month." Dhar who, in his capacity as chief architect, is also the Secretary-Member of DUHF, said, "With the heritage cell and the master plan going in tandem, the heritage fabric of the city is likely to receive a much-needed boost."

AGK Menon, Convener of the Delhi Chapter of INTACH and one of the newly co-opted members of DUHF, said the two decisions are likely to work in favour of Delhi's bid to earn the coveted tag of 'World Heritage City'. Menon, who participated in the Master Plan review meets, earlier said, "Out of the six heritage zones identified in the master plan, two of them -- Walled City of Shahjahanabad and Lutyens Bungalow Zone have also been included in the dossier that we have sent to UNESCO for world heritage (status)."

Menon says that with a proper 'heritage cell', the vision of preserving the city's heritage can actually be realised instead of the "ad hoc work which was being done earlier".

As to the progress of the cell, Dhar said, "A formal proposal has been sent to the competent authority under the DDA's vice chairman where we have asked for at least a skeletal staff to be arranged to carry out its work."

Buildings which have received the Urban Heritage Award are: Madrasa at Ajmeri Gate (1993), Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College (1994), St Mary's Home (1995).

In 1996, Haveli at Haider Quli at Chandni Chowk in Shahjahanabad received the top prize while the award in 1997 was bagged by St Xavier's School in the Civil Lines area.

Besides, St Stephen's Church, Metcalfe House, Oberoi Maidens Hotel and Lady Reading Health School have received commendations from DDA.

DDA's calendar for the current year also celebrates the city's "lesser known monuments" such as 'Chhote Khan ka Gumbad' in the Kotla Mubarkpur area of south Delhi.


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