Our country possesses cultural heritage that is unsurpassed in the world; but only a fraction of it is protected by the government. INTACH was set up with the important objective to create and stimulate awareness among the public for the preservation of all the existing cultural and natural heritage. Since Delhi as a city is particularly graced with a huge number of historic structures, identifying and listing the built heritage was recognized by the Delhi Chapter as a crucial first step towards preserving it.
The publication of Delhi The Built Heritage: A Listing in 2000 was undertaken by the Delhi Chapter to record the architectural heritage of the city. It was undertaken with DDA’s support. In this publication, over 1200 buildings of archaeological, historical and architectural importance were identified as against the 174 protected by the ASI. This list helped to catalyze effective conservation strategies to protect the surviving heritage buildings of Delhi. As a result of this initiative, in 2002 two local authorities of Delhi namely MCD and NDMC issued appeals for the protection of listed buildings in their areas of jurisdiction.
It should be noted that there had been earlier attempts to list Delhi’s historic buildings. The first attempt at listing was in1985-1986 by Nalini Thakur for the Conservation Society of Delhi/INTACH. Subsequently in 1994-1995, a second attempt at listing was made with contributions from Gurmeet Rai, Kamla Ratnam and Anu Behl Roy. The present list which includes over 400 buildings and 26 Conservation Areas not listed before is based on a complete resurvey by Ratish Nanda carried out in 1997-1998, when all the buildings included in the current list were photo documented and plotted on zonal maps. This publication was made possible due to the vision of O. P. Jain and the consistent and tireless efforts of the Project Consultant, Ratish Nanda under the able guidance of Narayani Gupta.
The two volumes of the listing are by no means a final statement. Listing is a continuous process in which one attempts to include more buildings worthy of conservation and also improve the system of records. For example, the present listing that the Delhi Chapter is doing for the Department of Archaeology of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi is much more comprehensive and overcomes deficiencies associated with earlier listings.
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