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J&K chief minister faces azadi protests at burnt shrine site

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pro-azadi slogans greeted Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday when she visited the 14 century revered Shrine of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani to take stock of the situation after the iconic structure was partially damaged in a fire incident.Pyramidal spire and roof of the shrine, considered a masterpiece of wooden architecture were damaged when fire broke out during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday. Fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the was brought under control.Originally built in the year 1395 by then Kashmir ruler Sultan Sikander in memory of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, lovingly called Ameer-e-Kabir and Shah Hamdan, the shrine was ravaged by fire on different occasions and was last reconstructed in 1732. The two storied structure is rich in woodwork and has a sloping pyramidal roof.Soon after hearing the news of blaze news, Mehbooba air dashed to Srinagar early morning and straight away drove to the shrine to take stock of the situation. However hundreds of people shouted pro freedom slogans and pro Islam slogans when she was inspecting the shrine.”Chief Minister went around the various areas of the shrine complex to assess the quantum of damage. She sought a detailed appraisal from the local administration regarding the fire incident,” said an official spokesman.Interacting with the members of the management committee and devotees, Mehbooba Mufti said the shrine of Hazrat Amir-e- Kabir symbolises the pluralistic ethos of Kashmir society from which every citizen of the state draws spiritual solace.Chief Minister expressed her deep appreciation for the local youth who came forward and prevented the fire from spreading. “On the occasion, people of the area demanded installation of CCTVs in the shrine complex, availability of fire tenders in the locality, scientific protection to the wood structures at the shrine and expediting shrine expansion plan”, said the spokesman.Emotional scenes were witnessed when people came to know about the blaze in the shrine. Braving cold thousands of devotees rushed to the shrine to find out the damages. Women wailed and cried after seeing the damage to the shrine.Later Chief Minister directed conduct of the safety audit of all shrines in the Kashmir Valley to pevent the fire incidents. Mehbooba directed installation of fire hydrants, smoke alarms, CCTVs and other precautions to prevent fire occurrence at any shrine in the State.Chief Minister, who is also the chairperson of the Wakf Board, directed immediate start of restoration work at the Khanqah i Mou’la shrine and complete it within the shortest period. She asked the INTACH to come up with the drawings within two days so that restoration work is started. She said money would be no constraint in the completion of restoration works at the shrine, which she described as civilizational soul for the people of the State.Mehbooba Mufti expressed her deep appreciation for the local youth who came forward and prevented the fire from spreading while directing the local administration to prepare list of such volunteers so that they would be suitably rewarded.ANCIENT TREASUREOriginally built in the year 1395 by then Kashmir ruler Sultan Sikander in memory of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, lovingly called Ameer-e-Kabir. The two storied structure is rich in woodwork and has a sloping pyramidal roof.

MICA collaborates with AMC to celebrate city’s heritage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coiniciding the dates of its annual marketing festival with the World Heritage Week, MICA, India’s premier management school for strategic marketing and communication, has collaborated with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to celebrate the heritage status of the city.MICANVAS, the three-day festival will kick-start on November 18 and will host a plethora of events, activities and competition where students from B-schools across the country will participate. Since the world heritage week begins from November 19, the theme of MICANVAS will revolve around heritage.Preeti Shroff, dean, MICA, said, “The students have partnered with AMC which suggested that the theme for our annual cultural event should revolve around heritage. AMC also suggested to turn our campus into a heritage one and will send its team to recreate heritage monuments on our campus.”Shroff added, “Apart from these, we are also organising a programme where students would compete on how to create a heritage campaign for Ahmedabad. It is a great opportunity of knowledge-sharing and belongingness that each student, Gujarati or non-Gujarati will have with the city.”Earlier, MICAVaani, MICA’s student- run community radio station, had recorded audio guides for 44 heritage sites in Ahmedabad, as part of effort that has gone into making Ahmedabad India’s first World Heritage City. These audio guides will act as aids for tourists to understand more about the various heritage sites in Ahmedabad. This project was undertaken by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Ahmedabad chapter under the guidance of convenor Abhay Mangaldas.

Lack of funds hits repair of Delhi’s oldest church

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The oldest church in the Capital, Saint James, was all set to get a complete face-lift after the restoration work started earlier this year, but the plan might not reach the finishing line now due to lack of funds.Built in 1836, the church is a major landmark in the Kashmere Gate area. The church committee had directed the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to create a Detailed Project Report, which was submitted in April, 2016. The first phase of restoration started in March, 2017.However, the crucial part B of Phase I, which involves waterproofing the terrace that was damaged by water, was abandoned midway. The church committee even wrote to the Governor of Delhi and some overseas organisations, asking for funds. But as of today, the work, which requires Rs 2.7 crore more, remains suspended.The 180-year-old colonial structure with classical architecture and a Florentine dome is historically significant. Over a period of time, the rising pollution and vibrations due to trains passing nearby have left the building vulnerable to damages. Every two-three years, the church committee gets it painted, but the damage due to the underground Metro tunnels has caused havoc to its structure. The two tunnels are only 15 and 35 m away from the church.Kamal Baluja, Chairman of the Church Conservation Committee, said, “We realise that the church needs urgent attention. That is why he had collaborated with INTACH. The part A of Phase I, which involved stabilising the structure and taking care of the damages caused over the years, is complete. A four-feet construction below the surface, around the boundary wall, has been finished.””This part cost us Rs 50 lakh. After that, we had to stop the work. Part B of Phase I requires Rs 38 lakh and the complete restoration, including Phase II, requires Rs 2.7 crore,” he said.When queried, an INTACH source said, “This structure has a rich past. We hope that the church generates enough funds to get the work done without any disruption. It requires intense conservation as decades of work has caused damages. It requires careful work to maintain its authenticity and integrity. The church is a living testimony to events of the last 150 years in the city.”Some valuable objects, which have high antiquarian value and need to be restored using scientific methods, also belong to the church. The list includes original European stained-glass windows depicting the crucifixion, ascension of Christ and his resurrection, a painting titled ‘The Prodigal Son’, original work of Italian painter Pompeo Batani, a processional cross gifted by Lord Irwin, a rare pipe organ gifted by T Ralph in 1899, and a church bell.

Intach gets nod to restore 19 monuments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the fourth phase of its project to conserve heritage buildings that have no legal protection, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) has received an approval from the Delhi government to start preparing Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the next set of 19 monuments. The conservation project is a result of an agreement between the Delhi government and Intach.The agreement was signed in 2008. It was renewed in 2012 by the Sheila Dikshit-led government for five years. And now, the government has again given a go-ahead for the next phase.The latest phase will include lesser-known monuments at Delhi Golf Club, including tombs of Mir Taqi and Sayyid Abid and a mosque; Kharbuze Ka Gumbad inside the Panchsheel Public School, and the dilapidated Hastsal Minar, which has been encroached upon by locals. According to sources, the budget for the fourth phase has already been approved and the DPRs will be completed by the end of this year, around the same time when the third phase will be nearing completion. If all goes well, work on the 19 monuments will start early next year.Under first three phases, work was done on 52 monuments.

Srinagar city plan puts residents at risk of floods – officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By Athar Parvaiz SRINAGAR, India, Aug 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A plan for the development of Srinagar city to 2035, put together by the government of Indian-administered Kashmir, ignores lessons from the 2014 floods that hit Srinagar and southern Kashmir, disaster prevention officials have warned. The large-scale destruction wrought by those floods was widely attributed to haphazard development in Srinagar, Kashmir’s largest city, and other urban areas over decades. Critics blamed housing and infrastructure construction in former flood basins in the mountainous north Indian state. The Master Plan for development of the Srinagar Metropolitan Region, which was open for public consultation until mid-August, is due to be finalised by the end of October. Kashmir’s Chief Town Planner Fayaz Ahmad Khan said the plan does envisage some new infrastructure development in flood-prone areas where homes, shops and government offices have already been built, because of a “pathetic” lack of state-owned land. The plan proposes solutions for all potential problems, including flooding, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In a letter dated July 27, 2017 and addressed to Khan, the Jammu and Kashmir Irrigation and Flood Control (IFC) department said it had analysed the plan from the perspective of its own recommendations based on flood scenarios. Before the plan was drafted, Khan had asked the IFC department to categorise areas as “undevelopable”, “vulnerable” or “suitable for development”, the letter said. In response, the department advised that some parts of the city should be classified as “undevelopable” and “vulnerable”, said the letter seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. However, those zones have been designated as “low density residential” areas in the plan, which will “encourage and eventually attract more people in these areas” which cannot be protected “by any means” if floods occur, warned the letter. ADMINISTRATION ‘AT RISK’ The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has also questioned a bid to move the secretariat of the Jammu and Kashmir government, which includes ministers’ offices, to a location at risk of flooding. “(The Master Plan) acknowledges many parts of Srinagar city as highly vulnerable to natural disasters, yet contradictorily gives proposals like shifting the Civil Secretariat to Railway Station Nowgam which, as per the plan, is a highly flood-prone area and a designated flood absorption basin,” said Saleem Beg, INTACH’s regional head. The IFC letter also argued the plan would allow construction on an important 242-hectare (598-acre) wetland, Narkara, in southern Srinagar, as its 100-metre (328-ft) buffer zone is depicted deep inside the wetland. The Chief Town Planner said the IFC assessment had categorised “more than half of the city”, which has a population of about 1.3 million, as vulnerable and undevelopable. “But people already live in these areas, and government and commercial infrastructure also exists there,” he said, noting the lack of alternative space for new development. The city faces a major land crunch, with as much as 57 percent of its total area of 766 sq km classed as unsuitable for development, including wetlands, water bodies, forests and areas used by the Indian army, said Khan. “This is why we have proposed some development within the developed urban areas, and also the creation of new townships around the city,” he added. DISASTER PREVENTION The Master Plan proposes – for the first time in over four decades of urban planning in Srinagar – a comprehensive disaster management strategy, he noted. It also includes measures to protect water bodies, he said. “Most significant of these … is to re-establish their connectivity with one another,” Khan said. To prevent recurring floods, the plan envisages afforestation and slope stabilisation, to retain rainwater in the upper reaches. It also recommends construction of mini-check dams, reservoirs, ponds and canals, and the preservation of natural flood basins, he said. The plan also suggests that people already settled in flood basins should be relocated in developable areas, rather than backing a proposed multi-billion-dollar flood spill channel. Experts have said the spill channel could have damaging consequences as it would require the acquisition of vast tracts of agricultural land, potentially harming food security, and could cause large silt deposits in Wular Lake downstream. Mohammad Sultan Bhat, head of Kashmir University geography department, which carried out a flood hazard study of Srinagar, said the regional government should plan land use in a way that protects residents from disasters like floods and earthquakes, especially in overcrowded Srinagar city. “The government’s urbanisation policy is such that Srinagar city bears the brunt of all the population,” he said. With the main government offices and health and education institutions located in Srinagar, people prefer to live there, he added. Jammu and Kashmir state has 46 towns, but 65 percent of the urban population is concentrated in its summer capital Srinagar, he noted. “This is what compels the government to allow construction, even in wetlands, which act as sponges during floods,” he said. “This is unfortunate.”(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Preserving 1,000 years of the Capital’s history

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Located close to the Qutub Minar, the Mehrauli Archaeological Park is one of the most important historical sites in the city today. In a recent report, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has named 127 monuments in the park as heritage monuments, of which six structures have been declared as centrally protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and 17 declared as heritage monuments of state importance by the State Archaeological Department.Such heritage, say officials, ensures the park has the ability to be a world class heritage park. Unfortunately, the park remains largely forgotten by people in the Capital.”The Mehrauli Archaeological Park has the potential to be a really world class urban heritage park. If the various stakeholders can work together, it is a great opportunity to show how the preservation of natural and built heritage can contribute to sustainable development in an urban setting by providing valuable recreational green space and adding to the tourist potential of the city,” says Swapna Liddle, Convenor, INTACH.The other problem is that of vandalism. Liddle points out that INTACH had been raising this issue for years with the concerned authorities with little result. As a result, INTACH filed a PIL in 2015 after which the High Court has directed DDA, the owner of the park, to take appropriate steps to fence the entire area and prevent it from encroachments.In their directive, the court said: “The Court is of the opinion that a comprehensive management plan should be prepared for the improvement and management of the park. The management plan would contain essential elements such as the identification of officials from all the concerned agencies such as ASI, DDA, SDMC, Delhi Waqf Board, Government of NCT of Delhi, Delhi Police, Delhi Jal Board as well as the petitioner/INTACH.”The Delhi Police shall ensure that no further encroachment is made. It shall also ensure that at the time of fencing, especially in the western side, appropriate photographs are taken to mark the extent of encroachment so that if the need arises in future, necessary action can be taken.”It is crucial that action is taken so that the park retains its glory and preserves its past, as it has over 1,000 years of history housed within it. Almost all the dynasties that have ruled Delhi from the Khilji, Tughlaq, Lodhi and Mughal dynasty to the British Raj are represented here.From the Lal Kot wall built by Anang Pal Tomar in the mid-11th century, to British-era structures of the 19th century, it is the most important area in the history of the Capital. It has to be maintained and preserved before it is too late.Fast FactsMehrauli Park127 monuments1,000 years of history covered6 ASI protected17 heritage monuments of stateProblemsLack of co-ordinationbetween agenciesVandalism of monumentsTrash around the monuments& AnalysisIt is a mistake to ask the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) or civic agencies to preserve heritage sites. The Delhi Archaeology needs to look after all the monuments.Heritage walks to the monuments need to start alerting people about the problems faced and possible solutions. Delhi has no shortage of experts and volunteers are eager to do their bit. Agencies should get them involved.

HC seeks Har govt stand on plea for preservation of monuments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Punjab and Haryana High Court today sought the Haryana government’s stand on a plea to inspect all the ancient monuments and archaeological sites in the state and to take steps to maintain and preserve them. A bench of justices S S Saron and Darshan Singh sought the stands of Archaeological Survey of India and private NGO INTACH also, issuing them notices returnable by July 24. The bench issued notices on a plea by former Sub Divisional Officer Yashpal Gulia for seeking protection of various ancient monuments. The petitioner, who had authored ‘Heritage of Haryana’ in 2012, stated in his petition that he has visited all such ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains in Haryana. He enclosed photographs of 63 such structures, which reveal that most of such structures have been encroached upon by private persons, while some are occupied by private schools, some by dairy owners and some by police department. An ancient tomb at Ferozepur Jhirka (Mewat) has been occupied by a school, French Memorial at Jhasra (Guegaon) is also under encroachment, a huge memorial at Rohtak is occupied by a dairy owner, a fort at Safidon is occupied by Police Department, the petition said. Petitioner s counsel H C Arora referred to photographs of some structures, saying they have been defaced and their antique value has been destroyed by the NGO, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, New Delhi) in the name of preservation thereof. He also produced photographs of many structures which are on the verge of collapsing and they include Palace of Nawab, Jhajjar, Palace of Nawab Dujana (District-Jhajjar), a fortress at Islampur (District, Narnaul), a British palace at Hisar, Gateway of Panipat. The petitioner has, therefore, prayed that authorisation given to the INTACH for preservation and maintenance of these ancient monuments be withdrawn.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

See Pics: Rashtrapati Bhavan to get a facelift

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eighty years and 13 Presidents later, the iconic palace of the Indian head of the state is finally getting a facelift. The 330-acre Rashtrapati Bhavan that has 65 structures will undergo several phases of conservation.The Presidential Secretariat commissioned the conservation work to the Delhi chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). INTACH collaborated with the central public works department to create a plan for the first phase.The main building – The President’s House – will see work happening during the second phase of the facelift. A detailed project report (DPR) will be submitted next month for the conservation work on the building.Speaking to DNA, an official from the President’s House said that the main intent was to restore the original characteristics of Edwin Lutyen’s architecture. “While the buildings and the landscape retain their original flavour, the subject of additional functional requirements to cater to the needs of the President’s Estate need to be addressed,” the official added. Rashtrapati Bhavan is a Grade A heritage building, as identified by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and is considered by many as one of Lutyen’s best works.“Although Rashtrapati Bhavan is a single, unified complex, it was decided to divide the project in two phases. The first phase will tackle the precinct and second phase will tackle the main building itself,” said Ajay Kumar, the project director at INTACH.Lime mortar mixed with jaggery and non-salty sand is being used in the conservation process. The main building has four floors with 340 rooms. The palace with two lakh square feet floor space has been made with 700 million bricks and 3.5 million cubic feet of stone, with some steel. The overall cost of restoration work, including adding the electrical fittings, is approximated at Rs 10 crore.“The work at Rashtrapati Bhavan will hopefully serve as an example and model to encourage other institutions to adopt a scientific measure to conserve and manage heritage structures,” said Swapna Liddle, Convenor, INTACH.

Can govt be forced to retain Hall of Nations? HC asks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court today said that if the central government does not want to retain the ‘Hall of Nations’ at Pragati Maidan here, how can it be forced to do so. “If the government does not want it, can it be forced to retain it?” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said to the lawyer for the building’s architect Raj Rewal who has also moved court to protect the structure from demolition. The court refused to pass any interim orders staying demolition of the building as sought by the architect nor did it clarify that there was no stay on demolition as sought by ITPO. The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) said it has decided to demolish Pragati Maidan, including the Hall of Nations, to set up a world-class exhibition centre there and wanted an order clarifying there was no stay. The court said it will not pass any such order, but observed that it has not issued any interim direction in the matter. On the architect’s plea to stay the demolition of the Hall of Nations, the court said it can only ask the government to look into whether the structure ought to be protected, but such an exercise has already been carried out by the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), a statutory body, which has decided not to protect the building. The court’s observation came during brief hearing of the plea by the architect and one by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) which has sought protection of 62 buildings, including Hall of Nations, in the national capital. The court could not take up both the matters post-lunch as the judge was not available and therefore, INTACH’s plea was listed for hearing on April 17 and the architect’s matter would be taken up on March 30. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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