New Delhi, 2014.12.01 (Dipak K Dash, TNN): In the next three years, you can expect to visit cleaner religious complexes and heritage sites having properly laid roads without hawkers blocking the way and well-lit surroundings, at least in seven cities. The Narendra Modi government will launch a flagship scheme in the next couple of months to revitalize the heritage cities of Amritsar, Ajmer, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Varanasi and Vellankani.
With Rs 500 crore of government funds, the project — Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) – aims to bring together urban planning, economic growth and heritage conservation besides beautification in an inclusive and integrated manner with focus on cleanliness, livelihoods, skills, safety, security, accessibility and faster service delivery.
Government sources said that the Urban Development Ministry has finalized the plan. Finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech had provisioned this in order to make heritage cities economic growth engines. “Heritage needs to be treated as an asset and its revitalisation and beautification generates lasting benefits to communities and cities,” said a ministry official.
All these years, redevelopment of heritage structures was taken up as isolated cases. But a need was felt to link the heritage development within a city to the overall planned development of the locality, which not only makes the region more tourist friendly but also improves quality of life of locals. Installation of CCTV cameras and provision of Wi-Fi access areas will also be a focus area.
Under this plan, each of the identified cities will prepare the heritage management plan (HMP) outlining the heritage resources and develop policies to guide their conservation, restoration, future use and development. There are proposals to have documentation of all heritage sites, conservation of areas, more facilities for women, senior citizens and differently abled citizens besides improved connectivity and access to tourist, attractions focusing on the improvement of last-mile connectivity.
Developing proper parking place and hawkers zones are also integral part of rejuvenating such cities, sources said. There will also be provision for heritage walks and digital information kiosks, pedestrianisation of tourist attraction areas and plying of more solar/battery operated vehicles.
Already some of the identified cities under this scheme have sent their proposals to the UD ministry. For example, Mathura wants river front development, water navigation from Vrindavan to Mathura, a ropeway across the Yamuna at Vishram Ghat and development of Barsana and Nand Gaon.
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