Heritage conservation must be a community movement

Heritage conservation must be a community movement

Heritage conservation must be a community movement.India holds the seventh place in the world in terms of having large number of world sites. With 32 World Heritage Sites (WHS), it has tied with Mexico.

Dr Abdul Razak MohamedCrunchy numbers, crispy stats

India holds the seventh place in the world in terms of having large number of world sites. With 32 World Heritage Sites (WHS), it has tied with Mexico. The largest number of WHS is seen in Italy followed by China, Spain, France, and Germany. The 32 sites in India (25 are cultural and the rest are natural) are recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Heritage Conservation needs participation and involvement of the community.

A good heritage conservation strategy requires the active participation and involvement of the local community in all aspects of its development and implementation. The challenge is how effectively communities participate in the process of protecting the cultural assets. The World Heritage Committee (WHC) in 1990 emphasised that community participation is essential in identification, protection and management of heritage structures. These aspects emphasis on the community-driven conservation and local empowerment is important to protect heritage areas.

There are many heritage sites located in Vijayawada. The unique identity in terms of Vijayawada is that the city displays a multi-cultural identity. For example, the Kanaka Durga Temple, Hazrat Bal Mosque, Gunadala St Mary’s Church, Gandhi Stupa, the historical and holy places of Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist people exist in the city. Apart from these places, the city has many caves, hills, rivers, museums, monuments, gardens, etc. The prominent ones are Bhavani Island, Prakasam Barrage, Kondapalli Fort, and Undavalli Caves.

But the status of these places is neglected and there is a need to protect and improve the quality. The government’s effort to preserve the heritages is good but it is not the end, the local government and local community should move forward and take steps to improve the quality of space. So far no heritage areas have been declared as World Heritage Sites in the State. The World Heritage Day is celebrated universally on April 18 every year. The special day offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts required to protect and conserve the heritage sites.

It is also important to draw attention about the socio-cultural values and the existing vulnerability of the buildings and its surroundings. Participation of the community enables a clear identification and understanding of what the community needs and feels about their locality as a whole, helping local development plans. Heritage sites are public property. So it is important for the government and local communities to formulate Common Property Management Systems (CPMS) towards the protection and conservation, beautification and activation of the heritage buildings and sites.

This approach requires the government and local communities to work as partners. Develop skill and employ the local people in Place Utility Activities (PUA) such as to engage in creating local economic activity spaces (LEAS) in a planned way with basic infrastructure facilities. Also creating Place Quality Activities (PQA) such as beautification and natural environment where the local people could involve in operation and maintenance. Dr. Abdul Razak Mohamed, DEAN of Studies & HOD Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada

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