As the 45th session of Unesco’s World Heritage Committee convenes in Riyadh, Ahmedabad can look forward to retaining its heritage city tag. During this important gathering, a panel of experts will scrutinise Ahmedabad’s ‘state of conservation’ report to determine whether it remains steadfast in its commitment to preserving its world heritage-listed treasures and deserves to keep the ‘World Heritage City’ tag.
Meanwhile, back in the city, for almost 15 months, a crucial heritage conservation plan, vital for securing the heritage status, had been languishing in neglect. The heritage conservation committee (HCC) has only just begun drawing up a strategy to engage with stakeholders of these historic properties to discuss the plan – a task that should have ideally commenced 12 to 13 months ago.
Unesco’s WHC conducts a comprehensive review of the city’s status every six years and evaluates its state of conservation every three years. “This year, Unesco will assess if Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has finished the priority tasks it had conveyed to the WHC last December,” says a standing committee member.
The HCC also met in April to compose a ‘to-do’ list but has achieved nothing so far. Several aspects of the plan, such as preserving monuments, efficient traffic management, documenting heritage properties, enhancing infrastructure and services, and raising stakeholder awareness and participation, are still incomplete.
A crucial document that needs to be discussed with the stakeholders is the “Basic Manual for Conservation of Heritage Houses of Ahmedabad’. “In many cases, occupants demolished the heritage buildings due to lack of knowledge about traditional construction materials and techniques needed to carry out repairs. This document serves as a visual guide, empowering them to identify and address such critical issues,” said a senior AMC official.