Monday, February 1, 2010

Junagadh Surendranagar tourism heritage Gujarat India

Should the Value Added Tax include a portion for effective heritage conservation? If not the sale of artifacts itself, why should the centuries-old heritage structures be opened for photography and documentary film-making to raise revenues for their conservation? Is it not about time the heritage structures be removed from the Public Works Department’s (PWD) jurisdiction?

These were amongst the several suggestions that emerged from the public consultation meeting of small towns held in Gandhinagar on Friday. Representatives and officials from 17 towns came for the meeting where members of the Gujarat state built heritage policy committee tried to understand the issues faced by them in heritage conservation and how they can be

“One of the biggest problems is that of creating alternative funding sources for heritage conservation. Including it in VAT was one of the options discussed, as it is a state subject. We are likely to include it in our recommendations to the government,” said a member of the committee, Ajay Chaudhary. Western countries have raised funds for heritage conservation through tax, he added.

Besides, corporate funding is emerging as a thrust area, along with government support. Another aspect discussed was opening up the heritage properties for photography and videography to international markets as there is great interest in studying these styles of architecture and design. Tourism is another option.

These can generate income, which when pooled up, could be enough to sustain the maintenance of the structures.

“Did you know that pictures of Junagadh Palace are a big hit? These generate income for the palace, which can be used to conserve it,” Chaudhary added.

“Most of these people (officials and representatives of towns) were very well aware of their heritage structures and had come with a comprehensive list.

The overall feeling was that the conservation of these precious assets should not be left to agencies like the PWD, as they only see a civil engineering solution to any problem. The structure will vanish before conservation will happen,” president of the committee, PK Ghosh said.

A positive outcome of the meeting might be an initiative by the heritage committee to take up a pilot project of restoring the Hawa Mahal in Surendranagar City.

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