Come September,Delhi will bid for World Heritage City status

FINAL dossier TO UNESCO CONCENTRATES on two areas — Shahjahanabad and New Delhi

Written by Ruchika Talwar | New Delhi | Published: July 17, 2013 1:58 am

If all goes well,by early next year,Delhi will have something in common with the historical cities of Rome,Cairo and Damascus – the UNESCO World Heritage City tag. The final “dossier” for Delhi’s bid for a berth in this elite club is ready and will be sent to UNESCO this September.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH),on behalf of the Delhi government,took nearly three years to prepare the dossier,named “The Imperial Capital Cities of Delhi”.

It focuses on two areas of Delhi: Shahjahanabad (areas of Old Delhi earmarked by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his capital between 1638-1648) and New Delhi (the British capital designed by Sir Edward Lutyens between 1912-1931).

Convenor of INTACH (Delhi chapter) Professor A G K Menon said: “We submitted a document for UNESCO’s tentative list last year. A city must remain on this list for a year before it is considered for the World Heritage City status. Now the final dossier is ready and is with the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC),which is the nodal agency to coordinate the nomination procedures. We submitted the dossier to DTTDC earlier this month. They they will pass it on to the Archaeological Survey of India,which will scrutinise it and send it to UNESCO in September.”

“UNESCO will give its feedback on it and based on that,we will work more on the dossier. The final dossier will be submitted to UNESCO next January,” he said.

The morphology of Shahjahanabad and the central vista of New Delhi have been laid out in the dossier. The central vista talks about the integration of the garden city concept and the City Beautiful Movement.

Sudhir Sobti,who heads DTTDC’s public relations department,said getting Delhi on the UNESCO World Heritage City list had several short-term and long-term benefits.

“There is archaeological evidence that Delhi has been inhabited since the Stone Age. However,evidence of continuous habitation exists only from the medieval period. Delhi is a huddle of seven historic cities. Hence,we have good reason to bid for a UNESCO World Heritage City status. Should Delhi achieve the Heritage City status,DTTDC can capitalise on it. It will enhance the city’s income generating capabilities through the tourism and hospitality sectors,” he said.

“It will help create a sense of ownership among the residents. It will catalyse the process of heritage conservation in the city. Urban planners will be made to orient development in the city in keeping with its heritage value. An informed tourist knows that a city has to conform to the strict standards set by UNESCO to earn that tag,hence,this will hike the city’s prominence on the world tourism map,” Sobti said.

Last year,INTACH had prepared a dossier naming four areas — Shahjahanabad,Nizamuddin,Lutyens’ Delhi and Mehrauli. But later,in an effort to make a strong case in favour of the nomination,international experts were consulted and it was decided to peg the dossier on just two areas — Shahjahanabad and New Delhi.

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