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Jaipur has fished out of its trove heritage buildings and is dusting off its fabled pink markets and stepwells to make them all squeaky clean for the second anniversary of the launch of the Centre’s smart city project. Jaipur made it to the select list of smart cities — balancing the old and the new — six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the project on June 25, 2015.
Officials here said before the year-end, Jaipur would have completed much of its heritage restoration work. The area-based development is being executed by the Jaipur Smart City Limited (JSCL), formed on March 12, 2016. An amount of Rs 483.65 crore has been earmarked for promoting heritage and tourism in the city under the mission.
“The idea is to restore Jaipur’s heritage so that it can be cherished by the city’s people and explored by travellers who visit Jaipur for its architectural beauty and rich culture,” said JSCL chairman Manjit Singh. The Union urban development ministry has approved investments worth Rs 2,401 crore for Jaipur under the smart city project, which will also include facilities for multi- modal mobility, smart solid waste management, wifi network in some areas and high-tech classrooms.
Jaipur, built in 1728 AD by Maharaja Jai Singh, earned its moniker ‘pink city’ in 1853, when the city was painted pink in honour of a visit by the Prince of Wales during the reign of Sawai Ram Singh. Pink was considered the colour of hospitality.
With pink avenues and markets becoming an important aspect of the city’s identity, one of the most ambitious projects of the mission is improving the facade of markets, at an estimated cost of Rs 14.6 crore, in nine areas. Over the years, these iconic markets have been encroached upon. Facades have been damaged, and what was once picturesque is now an ungainly sight of hanging cables, unkempt vegetation and extension of shops.
“We want to revive the lost beauty of the Pink City and will do this by repairing the damage, removing the clutter and repainting the facade with the original colour. We want to preserve the fabric and character of the walled city,” said Singh, who is also principal secretary, local self-government. The restoration is being done with traditional methods in preparing lime plaster and with the use of the original ‘khamira’ colour on the walls.
“We are likely to complete this by June 2018,” said the smart city project conservation architect Kavita Jain. Another major work being done, at a cost of Rs 1.8 crore, is the restoration and “adaptive re-use” of the historical Rajasthan School of Arts, the state’s oldest institution promoting art and culture, set up by Sawai Ram Singh in 1857.
“This structure has deteriorated because of exposure to climatic conditions. We intend to conserve it and open it as an indigenous art museum,” Singh said. The renovation will keep its original “character” while restoring the building in association with the Department of Archaeology and Museum.
“We will develop the forecourt and improve the facade. The building will have a museum with smart galleries and modern facilities,” said Jain. Another project is the rejuvenation of bawris, stepwells traditionally used as storage and irrigation tanks.
“We want to restore the lost beauty and functionality of the bawris which will improve the water table of Jaipur as well as help in conserving heritage structures of rainwater harvesting,” Singh said about the Rs 4.37-crore project.
Twelve other projects under the mission include turning heritage structures of Jaleb Chowk into an art square and of the Old Town Hall into a city museum and cleaning the Talkatora Lake.