Puducherry starts preparing dossier for World Heritage City tag

A view of a street in the Boulevard region in Puducherry   | Photo Credit: S. S. KUMAR

As a first step for Puducherry, a former French colony to get the coveted UNESCO World Heritage City tag, the government has set in motion the process for preparing an exhaustive dossier for the title.

The Old Town of Ahmedabad and Jaipur are the only cities in India to be approved of by UNESCO as World Heritage Cities.

According to a top official, “a team from the Department of Town and Country Planning and Local Administration Department visited Ahmedabad recently to study the Ahmedabad model and to understand how it was nominated as a World Heritage City. The government has to list all heritage buildings and submit a plan to UNESCO on how the heritage area should be protected to kick start the nomination process.”

The preparation of the dossier is a major exercise and to be included in the World Heritage List, the sites must be of outstanding universal value and must meet at least one of the 10 selection criteria set by UNESCO.

A workshop in this connection will be held on February 8 and experts from Ahmedabad, Dr. Rabindra Vasavada, architect and former head UNESCO World Heritage City Nomination Dossier Project and Dr. Saswat Bandyopadhyay, Professor, faculty of Planning, CEPT University will also participate. The Town Planning Department will organise the meet.

“Puducherry has already taken a leap for achieving the status by reaching three milestones in the initiative. The government has already notified a heritage regulation to protect heritage sites and heritage precincts. It has also constituted the State Level Heritage Conservation Committee with members from the government and domain experts while the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has prepared the complete list of heritage buildings in the boulevard town, which is being vetted by the government,” said Ashok Panda, co-convenor of INTACH.

The Vysial Street restoration project, carried out by the government of Puducherry and INTACH under the Asia Urbs Programme in 2002-2004, was a unique project, which was given the UNESCO award in 2009.

The Vysial Street restoration is a good example of how cities can get incentives for their conservation. The project covered urban greening, restoration of private heritage buildings under “matching grant” scheme and restoration of Vysial Street stretch between M.G. Road and Mission Street.

The list of buildings has to be put out in public domain and individuals and institutions can give their suggestions and feedback within 30 days. After the feedback, the committee, in consultation with the government, will notify the final list of heritage buildings in Puducherry.

Once notified, along with the heritage precinct, the buildings will be protected and conserved. Any alteration or changes in these buildings or precincts can be done only with the approval of the committee.

Mr. Panda pointed out that nomination by UNESCO will put Puducherry on the international map. Puducherry will have to plan urban developments as per UNESCO guidelines.

Traffic and pollution will be monitored ensuring a cleaner and beautiful heritage city. However, any urban development in violation of the guidelines will de-list Puducherry, he added.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 8:50:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/puducherry-starts-preparing-dossier-for-world-heritage-city-tag/article30673604.ece

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