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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Heritage conservation gets impetus

by Sachin Sharma, TNN | Apr 14, 2012,

VADODARA: For the first time the General Development and Control Regulations (GDCR) will also have Heritage Regulations regarding both natural and built heritage in the city. A notification of the new GDCR that was received by Vadodara Urban Development Authority (VUDA) recently will put restrictions on development around listed heritage locations.

The GDCR has also made provisions for cultural, environmental and natural areas like groves, hills, hillocks, water bodies as well as open and wooded areas. The GDCR states that a Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) will be appointed by the government and VUDA will consult it when it comes to any development, redevelopment, alterations, additions, repairs, renovation of the listed heritage buildings, heritage precincts or listed natural features of the city.

Interestingly, the provisions under the GDCR itself can be altered, modified or relaxed by VUDA if needed for conservation, preservation or retention purposes or a listed heritage structure or precinct. Special regulations can also be formed for listed heritage precincts on natural features on the advise of the HCC.

A major feature is that even road construction or widening will have to be planned or done in a way that it protects such precincts or natural features. Even the development plan can be modified to ensure that this happens.

While at the face of it the GDCR may be considered as a major handicap by owners of heritage properties, it will act as a major boon for those who want to put these to use as a commercial property, office or hotel. However, the owner will have to ensure that the original character of the building is retained. Incentives have also been suggested for heritage conservation of listed heritage buildings or precincts. These will be planned on the advise of the HCC and may include things like transfer of development rights or creation of a repair fund for such properties. The GDCR has suggested that Hyderabad and Mumbai models may be followed in this regard.

VUDA in charge executive engineer A C Vyas said that the regulations were in line with directives by the state government. He said that the list of heritage buildings and precincts will be drawn by the HCC and finalized soon.

State co-coordinator for Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) Sanjeev Joshi said that the salient feature of the new GDCR was that it included even natural heritage like water bodies. "The GDCR also establishes a clear mechanism on how to go about preservation of heritage through the HCC. The grading system of heritage properties and areas is very detailed," he said.

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