Owners of dilapidated Mughal-era havelis in the walled city of Delhi may soon get loans, tax exemptions and other incentives to convert their premises into hotels, tourist lodges or museums as part of a redevelopment plan by the Delhi government to boost tourism and restore the area to its former pristine glory.
A comprehensive draft prepared by the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC) will soon be sent to the urban development department for detailed examination.
Under the plan, the owners or anyone willing to restore the havelis will be provided a 100% rebate on luxury tax, entertainment tax, stamp duty and capital grants. “We want them to be able to convert their premises into hotels, heritage restaurants or art galleries. The havelis would not be spoiled because we would have limited number of guests,” said a senior Delhi government official.
Besides preserving the havelis, the government is hoping to boost tourism too. “Normally tourists come to Delhi for a day and then head to Agra or Jaipur. If the havelis are made visitor-friendly then tourists might stay longer and learn the cultural heritage of the city,” the official added.
A larger restoration plan envisions reintroducing trams, removing overhead wires and restricting vehicles in the area to make the narrow streets of Old Delhi more pedestrian friendly.