Exhibits its unique urban initiatives at a separate pavilion

Puducherry is now part of a major innovation at the ongoing World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

For the first time in the history of the World Expo, besides the national pavilions, select cities across the world are being showcased for their best practices that could offer solution to some of the pressing urban issues. Puducherry is one of the 32 cities to exhibit its unique urban initiatives and has a separate pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area (UBPA). The other Indian city to share the honours is Ahmedabad.

Based on the recommendations of the World Bank, the Shanghai Expo Committee invited the Puducherry Municipality to exhibit its Asia Urbs integrated program for urban environmental management and heritage preservation.

Heritage conservation

Between 2002 and 2004, the Puducherry government, along with INTACH Puducherry, implemented the Asia Urbs Programme to improve the quality of life in the old city through heritage conservation.

Many buildings were restored through a matching grant scheme that shared as much as half the costs of the project. A participatory conservation practice was also initiated and important public spaces in the city were taken up for improvement.

European Union provided a grant of Euro 700,000 and two European cities, Urbino (Italy) and Villeneuve-sur-Lot (France), partnered in this project.

Inspiring example

Ajit Koujalgi, INTACH Coordinator, in an e-mail interview from Shanghai told The Hindu that the programme implemented in Puducherry could serve as an inspiring example to many historic cities in the developing world that were struggling to save their heritage.

“Panels and video screens in the pavilion display salient features of the projects and a small shop and a cafe bring Puducherry closer to the visitors — to taste, feel and take home.

The main message of the Puducherry pavilion is that the heritage preservation requires the participation of building owners, civil society and serious commitment from governments to provide financial assistance and enact legislation to protect heritage buildings and precincts,” Mr. Koujalgi said.

Components shipped

The Department of Tourism, Puducherry, took up the pavilion project and it was built by a Chinese contractor in Shanghai based on the designs provided. Some of the components for the pavilion were shipped from Puducherry. The INTACH Puducherry Chapter acted as the facilitator.

The Shanghai World Expo was inaugurated on April 30 and will be open to public till October 31. The Puducherry pavilion is in Case Joint Pavilion 1, UBPA Section.