The J&K UT Architectural Heritage Revival/Restoration/Conservation Executive Committee meeting was held today at the meeting hall of the Civil Secretariat, Srinagar under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta.
The meeting was attended by Sarmad Hafeez, Tourism Secretary; Rahul Pandey, director of archives, archeology and museums; The Chief Town Planner of Kashmir and various other officials/officers attended the meeting through VC.
Initially, Rahul Pandey, Director of Archives, Archeology and Museums, briefed the committee on the program’s mandate outlining the objectives of the program and the progress made so far. He also presented to the committee the DPRs of 35 sites – to be executed in the first stage of the program. Out of these 35 sites, 17 are based in Kashmir division and 18 sites in Jammu division.
A multidimensional approach for the revitalization of these 35 sites has been taken into consideration which involves the inclusion of some additional development components: landscaping, access path, directional and informative signs, public facilities, drinking water installation, lighting facade, perimeter wall, etc. above and above the structural element. The overall financial breakdown by component of the DPRs was also presented to the committee.
While reviewing progress, CS said restoring J&K’s heritage and architectural sites is a government priority and coordinated efforts must be undertaken to restore the sites to their original position. He directed officers/officials to formulate and finalize short, medium and long term plans for the revival, restoration, preservation and maintenance of J&K’s architectural and heritage sites. He said the short-term plans should be executed immediately, including things like landscape, access road, lighting, information boards, public amenities and the rest of the things that fall under the responsibility of the long-term plan will automatically follow.
He said heritage sites should become a living place for people in consultation with stakeholders according to the approved action plan and said once people start visiting the places it will create effects training. He added that the whole exercise is apparently aimed at preserving the religious, heritage and cultural sites of Jammu and Kashmir which the multitude pays homage to and these sites represent the composite culture of J&K.
After a comprehensive presentation and detailed discussion, the Executive Committee gave its approval for the execution of all 35 projects. The committee also approved the hiring of wealth consulting services for efficient and timely execution of projects. At the next committee meeting, the Department of Archives, Archeology and Museums, in consultation with the respective district administrations, will support additional heritage sites. According to SC guidelines, the attempt is to revive/restore/maintain a total of 150 sites comprising 75 Sufi sites and 75 other heritage sites of varying cultural, religious and historical significance.
In addition to this, a conceptual idea of “heritage mapping” was also presented to the committee by Daksh Dev, a lieutenant governor in charge of sustainable development working with the Ministry of Culture J&K UT. The idea was to create a digital footprint of heritage sites and link it to Google Maps to educate/inform and assist tourists/travellers visiting J&K UT. Convinced by the idea, the Executive Committee suggested working on the inclusion of local actors and individuals for the benefit of the inhabitants of J&K UT. Once, through coordinated efforts, these sites return to their original position, the livelihood activities of various stakeholders and locals will increase.