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Srinagar’s key heritage sites are vanishing fast – from 349 in 2003 to 307 in 2022

By: Owais Gul

Srinagar, Nov 26: The ancient city of Srinagar is one of those last remaining cities in the country which treasures numerous heritage sites dating back to several centuries. However, the non-implementation of the relevant preservation and conservation laws aimed at preserving these sites has seen a major reduction in the number of such sites in the past two decades. A survey conducted by the Indian National Trust for Architecture and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), J&K Chapter has revealed a progressive loss of key heritage sites in Srinagar City.

“In the past two decades, about 12 per cent of the heritage sites or buildings, supposed to be preserved, have been dismantled completely, while six per cent are either in danger of disappearance or have been found in an advanced state of decay,” Chairman INTACH, J&K Chapter, Muhammad Saleem Beigh said in an exclusive interaction with the news agency Kashmir News Observer (KNO).

He said that a total of 349 sites were identified and categorized as Grade I properties in the 2003 listing while only 49 per cent out of them are in good or fair conditions. “We recently conducted a survey again for the smart city project and we have found that 51 per cent heritage sites, as per 2003 listing, are either dismantled completely or showing signs of deterioration. Besides, six per cent out of them are in danger of disappearance or in an advanced state of decay,” he said.

Mr Beigh further said that in 2010 a law was formulated in J&K with regard to the preservation of the heritage sites, but was not implemented on the ground so far, which led to the demolition of the heritage buildings and poor condition of others as well. “Had the law been implemented, all the heritage sites would have been in good condition in Srinagar,” he said.

The situation is because of the lack of seriousness as well as the accountability on the ground, he said and added that the city was progressively losing the heritage sites every year, but there was a need to implement the law concerning the heritage sites.

Chairman INTACH, J&K Chapter while divulging the details, further said that during the new survey conducted recently, a total of 17 new sites have been added in the Grade I category. “With the addition of new 17 sites, the City has a total of 307 heritage sites at present, which need to be preserved and protected following the implementation of the law,” he said.

“The central government recently came up with an industrial policy under which the heritage sites have been declared as industry as well. The government has said that it will provide a 30 per cent incentive for any activity to be started at the heritage sites. However, the J&K administration has unfortunately failed to recommend any single case to the central government so far, which would have helped in preserving the heritage sites,” he said.

He added that there is a need to create awareness, ensure regulation and preservation of the heritage sites and steps in this regard are imperative at this juncture. —(KNO)


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