Issue BriefsPublished on Aug 23, 2023 PDF Download
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Balancing Old and New in Delhi: Modern Delhi’s Perspective on Built Heritage Conservation

While existing literature provides solid documentation of conservation policy and legislation, coverage of civil society's perceptions and role within conservation schemes is relatively sparse. This paper presents the under-represented perspective of modern Delhi on the policies and realities of heritage conservation.

How can a city hope to move into the future if Hits buildings represent the past? The answer is a paradox only on its surface: in order to sustainably develop a city which accommodates the diverse needs of a bustling metropolis, planners and policy makers must consider the decades, centuries, and millennia of evolving layers of human existence. If we neglect our built heritage, it is to our, and future generations’, detriment. Without the monuments to our past, our presence has no meaning, uprooted and detached from the succession of events which carry us into the future.

To their credit, planners have come a long way from the model cities of the Modernist Movement, when entire neighborhoods were mowed down to make space for super highways and uniform housing blocks. International conservation standards, such as ICOMOS’ Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas, 1987 stipulate that conservation should be fully integrated into social, economic and development policy, should seek to preserve specific urban character or culture, should involve all stakeholders, and should follow a systematic but not rigid approach . Yet, urban heritage is all too often isolated from our quest to achieve perfect efficiency, comfort, safety and equality, and thus becomes collateral damage through diseases of neglect: anonymity, slow decomposition and encroachment.

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