Bhubaneswar: Inaugurating the 5th International Biennial Conference of Indian Heritage Network (IHCN), Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said “ along with development of modern amenities and facilities, our cities should also be vibrant with the socio-cultural life, centered around heritage, art and craft.’’
“There are several cities in India and abroad where this has been done and I am hopeful that the conference will be a platform for exchange of ideas and best practices in this field. At the same time, I also hope more cultural sites of Odisha to come into the purview of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. My Government is committed towards taking steps towards identifying, preserving and protecting these sites through listing and documentation, preparation of tourism promotion and conservation plans and developing heritage resource management plan,’’ he observed.
The Chief Minister also observed “Odisha is known for its rich cultural heritage, with Bhubaneswar at the centre stage. Our Kalingan style of temple architecture, as can be seen in places around Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark, dates back to the 7th Century A.D and is a great attraction to the people visiting the state. Some of our monuments such as the Sun Temple at Konark, the Jain caves at Khandagiri and Udayagiri have literally preserved our glorious history over thousands of years. Bhubaneswar’s cultural heritage is epitomized by Ekamra Khestra, which has been the cultural capital over the centuries.’’
“Our monuments and the associated cultural activities play an important role in the lives of people of Odisha and give them a special identity. It is thus necessary to create awareness on our cultural heritage, their protection and preservation from the continuous onslaught of development and its related effect. While developing the Smart City of Bhubaneswar we are laying equal emphasis on preservation of its cultural identity and heritage and also on promotion of tourism,’’ he added.
The Chief Minister also inaugurated a students’ competition on theme “Smart strategies for maintaining the culture and identity of historic cities”. Undergraduate architecture students participated in the event and displayed their ideas on having management plan for different heritage sites. Students from Odisha displayed two beautiful plans for Dhauli near city and Chandragiri in Gajapati district.
Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO representative to India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka said there would be better coordination now between IHCN and Bhubaneswar after this event.
Former director UNESCO New Delhi Ms Minja Yang, who is also president and professor, Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KU Leuven in Belgium, said “the city authorities can have more heritage linked activities and exchanges with other partner cities through IHCN for knowledge-sharing and experience gathering.
IHCN Chairman Dr. M. Ramachandran, who was a former Secretary MoUD, welcomed the guests and, State H&UD Secretary G Mathi Vathanan gave vote of thanks during the inaugural session.
Later speaking to media persons Vice-Chairman Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) and Municipal Commissioner Dr. Krishan Kumar said “We have started a Heritage Cell in BDA with various experts to take up projects like Heritage Signage, no hoarding zone in Old Town, change in the skyline of the Heritage District with regular enforcement, implementation of guidelines of National Monument Authority.’’
The three-day conference will continue till Sunday. Tomorrow there will be a special heritage walk for the delegates and they would be taken for an experience at Ekamra Walks Old Town Circuit.
Another major highlight of tomorrow’s event, however, would be a Heritage Dialogue Series to provide a forum for dialogue to understand the challenges in the way of heritage issues. Local experts i.e. historians, archaeologists, planners, developers, administrators, NGOs and agencies working for conservation at local, state and national level will take part in the dialogue on how development policies and practices can be founded on the cultural heritage, value systems, knowledge systems and institutions of the people, who are the subjects or beneficiaries of the development change.
The outcome of the dialogue series is to arrive at policy-level recommendations to address the issues relevant to Odisha and also to raise awareness and be a platform for advocacy. There will also be a discussion on how the traditional communities would benefit from heritage through better participation and greater economic leverage.
In the past IHCNF has conducted biennials at Jaipur, Hyderabad, Mysore and Pune on theme relevant to the heritage sector with the support of the respective State Governments and cities.