Old Delhi haveli owners express concern over ‘heritage’ status
Several haveli owners complained they had “not been made partners” during the policy-making process for preservation. They claimed the havelis has been handed over “heritage” tags by civic authorities without their consultation.Updated: Sep 23, 2018 02:41 IST
Owners of havelis in Old Delhi on Saturday expressed concerns over the government-accorded “heritage” tag to their properties with several claiming they had never been consulted before the decision was made.
These concerns were flagged during a workshop titled ‘Conservation of Heritage Buildings in Shahjahanabad’ organised jointly by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (North MCD) and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) at Town Hall in Chandni Chowk on Saturday.
The event was targeted at answering haveli owners’ queries on issues like the due process for seeking permission to carry out repair and restoration of notified heritage structures.
During the discussion, several haveli owners complained they had “not been made partners” during the policy-making process for preservation. They claimed the havelis has been handed over “heritage” tags by civic authorities without their consultation.
Several others questioned the efforts by civic authorities to improve infrastructure in area.
While the haveli owners claimed the tag would not benefit them, architectural experts at the event maintained that such “heritage status” would be an “asset and not a liability” and would help in improving tourism in the area.
“The civic agencies are expecting us to follow the traditional norms for restoring havelis and bear the entire expense. They should understand that renovating havelis in the traditional manner is a cumbersome and expensive process. We are not in a position to spend so much money,” said Anand Prakash Bansal, who owns a haveli in Kucha Ghasiram area of Old Delhi.
“Zero efforts have been taken by civic agencies to resolve the issues of traffic congestion, illegal construction, dilapidated sewage system, drains and overhead hanging electricity wires in area. In the given circumstances, even if we renovate our havelis as per government norms, tourists wouldn’t come here,” said Ram Dutt Aggarwal, another haveli owner.
However, a senior North MCD official said that the government and civic agencies are on verge of finalising various development projects for Shahjahanabad. “But these can only be implemented when people deposit conversion charges and property taxes in large numbers. At main Chandni Chowk Road, department concerned has already initiated task to tightened low overhead hanging wires,” RK Gupta, chief engineer, north corporation.
Ruchika Katyal, deputy commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s City-Sadar Paharganj Zone, however, insisted that the corporation has been working to simplify the process for renovating havelis. “To get their renovation plans sanctioned, haveli owners need not to go anywhere. They just need to apply with our zonal offices and our officials will forward the plan to the town planner and the heritage conservation committee for the final approvals,” said Katyal.
Swapna Liddle, convener of INTACH’s Delhi chapter, said, “The efforts taken by the north corporation is appreciable by bringing different stakeholders on one platform. But we need to understand the situation patiently. We expect that more such events need to be organised in future.”
Meanwhile, other experts advised the north civic body to consider rebooting its ‘heritage cell’, constituted years back to deal with such issues. The cell had become redundant after 2012, when the Delhi’s municipal corporations were divided into three parts.
At the workshop, Navin Piplani, principal director, INTACH heritage academy, said preservation of built heritage can be incentivised through tax benefits or other revenue-generating model. Currently, there are 783 heritage structures, including 229 historical buildings and 325 havelis, identified and notified by the authorities.