World Heritage Day: Kashmir’s rich heritage under threat

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By Fast Kashmir on 18/04/2018.

World Heritage Day: Kashmir’s rich heritage under threat
Rameez Makhdoomi | File photo

Srinagar, April 18: World heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Today is World Heritage Day.  The importance that we attach to our ‘heritage’ clearly outlines the progress. Heritage is by all means said to be an important component of a civilized and developed society. The history is what is all around us. We live our lives against a rich backdrop formed by historic buildings, landscapes and other physical survivals of our past. But the historic environment is more than just a matter of material remains. It is central to how we see ourselves and to our identity as individuals, communities and as of a concerned society.
Pertinently, on 18 April 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organized by ICOMOS in Tunisia, the holding of the “International Day for Monuments and Sites” to be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who provided practical suggestions to the National Committees on how to organize this day.
With the result the idea was also approved by the UNESCO General Conference who passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983 recommending that Member States examine the possibility of declaring 18 April each year “International Monuments and Sites Day”. This has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day.
Painfully, Kashmir’s once rich cultural heritage is vanishing with every passing moment. The bad condition of the majority of heritage buildings and sites in Kashmir bears a grave testimony to this grim reality. Many sane voices state that over the past few decades, there has been the unprecedented destruction of the city heritage and tampering with heritage which should be stopped immediately.
To make the situation more worse the impact of newer building technologies on the traditional architecture of Kashmir has been devastating.
Sometimes back, the New York based World Monuments Fund (WMF); a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered architectural and cultural sites around the world has included the city of Srinagar and the old town of Leh in its watch list of threatened World Heritage Sites.
Even the experts are lamenting the plight of heritage buildings in Kashmir.  In his book titled “Don’t tear it down!” Randolph Langenbach asserts that destruction of heritage buildings leads to cultural and economic loss, and Kashmir is fast losing its architectural heritage.
Jaffar Ahmad Allie, a heritage lover said, “Heritage is powerful symbol of a nation. Unfortunately, Kashmir’s rich heritage is currently in bad condition    and there is no dedicated department on ground zero which is seriously bothered about protecting it. The state government is allowing the heritage to rot. Our government and society on a holistic paradigm failed to protect the number of heritage sites in Kashmir. We need to take concrete steps in this regard. In order to safeguard the valuable heritage we must have a heritage conservation plan which should be implemented in letter and spirit.”
Masses and experts voices call upon the concerned policy makers and stakeholders to act immediately to save the rich heritage of Kashmir from further destruction. (KNB)