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VOL. XXII NO. 6, July 1-15, 2012
There’s urgent need to list heritage in 800 towns
(Courtesy: INTACH Virasat)

INTACH to set up Conservation & Heritage Management Institute

INTACH Chairman L.K. Gupta recently told Union Minister for Culture, Kumari Selja, about the urgent attention needed by thousands of unprotected sites and monuments in the 800-plus cities and towns of India, in only 152 of which documentation of their heritage assets has been done to date, “which is like the tip of an iceberg.” Unless more sites are notified and heritage regulations put in place, most of these precious sites are bound to disappear over time, he said. He requested the Minister to consider making it obligatory for every State to list its heritage properties and involve local communities in their management effectively. Protection of heritage – not for the people, but with the people – he emphasised, could be a new policy approach to managing India’s vast heritage repository more effectively.

During the Minister’s visit to INTACH’s Central Office, Vice-Chairman Tasneem Mehta announced the establishment of the Conservation and Heritage Management Institute proposed to be set up in New Delhi. It will train a cadre of skilled professionals to address the issue of current national knowledge and skills deficits which are negating the sustainable development of India’s cultural resources. The Centre, the Minister stated, will boost INTACH efforts to sensitise and involve a large national audience in conserving, protecting and documenting the country’s precious heritage. An NGO like INTACH, with its extended network of Chapters across States, is well positioned to reach out to the people more effectively than Government bodies which function under several systemic constraints. The Minister also pointed out the many gaps that needed to be filled, like absence of heritage management professionals in most 2/3 tier-cites, and the lack of Master Management Plan even for the majority of India’s 28 World Heritage Sites. The bulk of 65,000 heritage sites listed by INTACH remain unprotected, except for 3675 monuments and 41 museums looked after by ASI, and an additional 3500 administered by State Governments. Most States do not even have urban heritage protection laws, nor are they governed by any heritage regulations. That includes even the capital city Delhi where flood plains are being ravaged by the land lobby.

The proposed INTACH Training Centre will collaborate with the University of York and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Museum. It is planning to offer short-term courses, field work, research and internships under a faculty comprising national scholars and visiting international teachers to create a pool of trained professionals in the field of heritage conservation. The courses will cover preparation of management plans, analysis of cultural landscapes, display of art objects and museum management, inter-disciplinary studies, documentation methodologies, intangible cultural heritage, etc. thus filling up a major lacuna exisiting in the educational system, and facilitating creation of new job streams.

The Minister for Culture, responding, said, “The more you discover, the more you realise how much remains to be done in the heritage field.” She reiterated her full support for INTACH activities.

A month later, addressing a Conveners’ Conference, the Chairman shared his thoughts on the major issues that he had come across during his past 16-17 years’ association with Chapters, like inadequate involvement of members and communities in Chapter discussions and activities. He also stressed the basic work that all new Chapters must undertake, i.e. listing and documentation of built and natural heritage, utilising local volunteers and architectural college students; protecting intangible heritage that promotes arts and crafts, tourism, and rejuvenates local economy; and, being the eyes and ears of INTACH, reporting heritage at risk.

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In this issue

Still no solutions to woes caused by parking
How do we curb cell-phone use on the roads?
It's fascinating to catch up with local history
Looking back
When Madras went on the AIR
Driving Down Memory Lane
The actor in the shadows
There's urgent need to list heritage in 800 towns

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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