TNN | Sep 3, 2012, 12.52AM IST
JAIPUR: The centuries-old private buildings in Walled City are dying a slow death due to apathy of their owners as well as the state government, affecting the area's heritage look.
In the Walled City, majority of the havelis and buildings are privately owned. While the heritage look of markets are maintained properly by traders, inside the streets, most of the old private buildings remain neglected.
Recently the district administration filled a hundred-year-old baori (water body) in Goner with mud as it was in a bad shape. The administration claimed that it could even cause casualties. Similarly, many old private buildings were flattened by JMC after being certified as dilapidated buildings.
With time, more old buildings are being declared 'dilapidated' in the absence of repair and maintenance. Recently, the JMC identified more than 20 buildings as 'dilapidated' apart from those which were already declared so. The district administration instructed the JMC to demolish such buildings which could cause casualties during heavy rain. And once old buildings are pulled down, it gives an opportunity for new constructions, which eventually hurt the heritage status of the Walled City.
So far, all the efforts of the state government to save such old private buildings, which are famous for their architectural work and history, went in vain. As the buildings are occupied by private owners, the state government did not show any sincere interest to save the buildings in the absence of byelaws for such private old buildings.
The houses in the Walled City are more than 100-years-old but some of them are over 150 years, which are collectively known as Pink City.
"A meeting was held in the past on the issue with focus on making minor changes in the existing heritage byelaws so that the old private buildings could be saved. But so far, there is no result. The government cannot repair the private buildings with government funds. Also, the government cannot force the owners of the buildings to repair them as repair and maintenance of the building depends on the financial condition of the owners," he said.
There are many other reasons for buildings becoming fragile. Some of the buildings are in dispute over multiple ownership and cases are pending in court. They are occupied by tenants for years (tenants do not vacate them and the owner do not want to repair it).
Meanwhile, JMC demolished three such buildings on Wednesday. These buildings were identified as "dilapidated" that could collapse anytime in heavy rain. "All the three buildings were constructed over 125 years. But they were in bad shape in the absence of repair and maintenance," said a JMC official.
The NGOs working to conserve heritage of the city also expressed their concern over the issue. Dharmendra Kanwar, convenor of INTACH, Jaipur, said: "It is unfortunate that the private buildings in the old city have been damaged in the absence of repair and maintenance. There are many old buildings which are not so historically important but archeologically they are significant. There must be a joint effort of the state government and the owners of the buildings that could preserve the heritage of the Walled City."
Director of an experiential tourism company, Vipul Kumar said: "The government should frame some laws for preservation of old private buildings in the Walled City."
However, the government is trying to save the heritage face of the Walled City. Department of archeology and museums Jaipur Circle superintendent ZU Khan said: "Recently, Amber Development and Management Authority have started work to facelift of heritage and to maintain uniformity in markets in Johari Bazaar and Chaura Rasta. These are private buildings and shops which are being renovated with government funds."