Some conservation successes, many failures | Ahmedabad News

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Ahmedabad: On this day, five years ago, Ahmedabad became India’s first Unesco World Heritage city during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in Krakow. During these years, the inscribed area – “the walled city of Ahmedabad” – has undergone several changes, while facing challenges such as the pandemic.
As a review of its condition and promises looms, experts weigh in on the successes and failures of the past five years.
Ashish Trambadia, Director of the Ahmedabad World Heritage City Trust (AWHCT), said on the frontline of capacity building, documentation, heritage conservation plan, visitor management plan and engagement of experts – some of the suggestions from the subsequent UNESCO review report – a lot of work has been done.
“Today, we have qualified inspectors, conservation assistants, GIS experts, etc., to help citizens in their conservation efforts. In recent years, awareness of technical assistance has also increased among POL residents. The majority of the 2,692 buildings on the heritage list have obtained their own plans free of charge and several studies are underway in collaboration with educational institutes and experts,” he said. “The assessment of the condition of several buildings is also underway. The involvement of local residents as stakeholders is crucial.
The Unesco website lists some “legacy challenges” for the inscribed area, such as overpopulation and increased human activities, development pressures, traffic congestion, pollution, migration and demographic changes. Experts point out that despite several attempts, the identity of a “world heritage city” has yet to take root in the local psyche.
Jagdip Mehta, a resident of Moto Sutharwado in Khadia and owner of a heritage house, said the need of the hour was to focus efforts on citizen participation and address issues such as lack of parking spaces for rapidly deteriorating structures that are converted into warehouses. “We welcome many foreign students and dignitaries to our home. They marvel at our residence, but we need many more such examples to attract tourists to the heritage city. We also need to create the means to sustain heritage structures,” he said.
Professor Jigna Desai, head of the master’s program in conservation and regeneration at CEPT University, said efforts such as training conservation architects and civil engineers are a step in the right direction.
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