Plan of action
As the heritage cell of the Pune Municipal Corporation marked its 10th anniversary, the regal Vishrambaugwada got a new lease of life. Pune’s heritage sites face neglect mainly because there’s no single authority to take on the responsibility. Some sites come under the purview of the PMC, state, and Centre, while others are under private ownership. “We need a single point authority if we want to get some serious work done,” says Shyaam Dhawaley, executive engineer PMC and head of its Heritage Cell. The department made its debut in 2003 with the Vishrambaugwada conservation project. With, no original buildings plans of most heritage sites available, the cell had to re- map every such structure in the city with the help of NGOs, heritage groups such as INTACH and Janwani, and architecture students. “Heritage belongs to all of us and we all need to work towards conserving and restoring it,” he says.
Over the years, the restoration work has picked up momentum and the cell has started conservation of other structures such as the Nanawada, Kasba Ganpati temple, Nageshwar temple and Mahatma Phule Mandai. Last year, the PMC joined the Indian Heritage Cities Network Foundation which ties- up with UNESCO to share information and expertise in the field of conservation. Last year, the PMC launched guided heritage walks. “These structures came alive instead of being just stone and brick buildings. We want more people to visit these sites because when some place lies unused, it gets destroyed,” says Dhawalaey. Another positive step that’s making city heritage conservationists happy is a Masters Degree in Conservation for architects by the Sinhagad University that will now help bring more experts into the field.