Wednesday, April 10, 2019

My City My Responsibility - Protecting Cultural and Natural Heritage

Dear All

Last year, we collected a few citizens' perspectives on certain issues related to Urban Sustainability. These included Housing, Transport, Governance or Peoples Participation, Heritage (both Cultural and Natural), Waste management and Air pollution, Disaster Risk Assessment and Green Open Spaces. For relating it to a broader vision, we used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework especially the SDG 11 which deals with making cities and settlements sustainable. We compiled all citizens inputs and formed the Citizens Charter for Sustainable Pune. In our event on Citizens Charter and Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune we shared the same document with all of you. On analyzing all the Citizen inputs, we realized that if these inputs are put up as actionable points it will be a good guideline to follow by all.

Previous blogs focused on HousingTransport and Participatory planning and Management  under SDG 11. In this blog I will be writing about Heritage and how its importance for all of us.

I am glad that SDG 11 considers both Cultural and Natural Heritage in a city. We often talk about Cultural Heritage but never realize that all the natural resources that are available to us in the form of water bodies, hills and forest patches are all part of our Natural Heritage. This Natural Heritage is now getting encroached upon, destructed and depleted at increasing rates and if not conserved now, we might render the future generations without any Heritage values. The way we have started conserving and restoring our Cultural Heritage, there is a need to conserve our Natural Heritage as well. Let us see how we can contribute to conserve our Heritage (both Cultural and Natural) at different levels.

Individual Level:
  • Let’s understand and acknowledge the importance of Heritage structures both Cultural and Natural for the quality of our lives and the city as well apart from their inherent value.
  • Identify if there are any old open spaces with good green cover or ancient structures that have heritage value and can be conserved in our neighbourhood, and bring those to the attention of appropriate authorities/experts. 

Community Level:
  • Let’s advocate for an inclusive accessibility at all cultural and natural heritage places.
  • Let’s protect the heritage structures irrespective of socio-economic barriers.
  • Knowing the importance of the heritage structures, ensure that these places are protected from any infrastructure development activity in the neighbourhood. 
  • Let’s advocate for better sanitation facilities, safety by local surveillance and monitoring from illegal or unwanted activities in such places.

Governance Level:
  • Cultural heritage structures have budget allocations, however there is a need to allocate appropriate budget for Natural Heritage as well that is concerned with our rivers, hills and hill tops. Heritage Cell should undertake this responsibility. 
  • Public private partnerships (PPPs) and CSR initiatives can be explored in order to avail funds for maintaining the heritage structures.
  • The way we have interpretation centers in National Parks, we need to check the feasibility of providing such interpretation centers may be at a small scale at our Cultural as well as Natural Heritage sites that promote traditional, local indigenous knowledge apart from the inherent values. This will also help in creating an inventory of the local knowledge.
  • Though there are buffer areas surrounding the heritage structures, strict enforcement of the same needs to be undertaken and violating the same should be strictly penalized.
  • Ensure timely maintenance and restoration works that preserve the inherent values of the structures should be undertaken by using innovative technologies.
  • Individual housholds, Communities and PPPs contributing in conservation of the Heritage structures should be awarded or recognized by local bodies or state level authorities in order to sensitize citizens about the importance of heritage structures. 

These are a few key inputs given by 200 odd people, we are looking for more such inputs and suggestions from you in order to make our Citizens Charter a better Action Agenda. You can email me at AND like, share / comment on our Facebook page @ for more inputs. 

Your inputs will be featured in our Action Agenda for Sustainable Pune booklet.

Pournima Agarkar.


Aditi said...

Very well written blog! This is a very important aspect of ethics and aesthetics. Realizing , Respecting and Protecting our Natural Heritage. It is an inseperable part of our identity.

Aditi said...
One good example of this in Delhi is the Deer Park in Hauz Khas

pournima said...

Thanks Aditi!!!