Stakeholder Participation for Managing Historic Urban Areas in India: The Case of HRIDAY Cities

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Rajdeep Routh and Piyush Pandya


This study examines public policies with the specific case of the HRIDAY scheme to explore the extent and weightage of public participation in the management of the historic core of Indian urban areas. The study analyzes stakeholder participation in three cities of Ajmer, Amritsar, and Varanasi. The research methodology is based on the literature review for understanding the scenario of stakeholder participation in heritage management. Secondly, the analysis includes the study of the Detailed Project Reports for the mentioned cities and the review of media reports and articles.

Indian cities consist of a web of overlapping heritage that is natural, cultural, movable and immovable, tangible and intangible, living and historic. While we celebrate Indian cities as engines of development, we cannot afford to overlook the role of culture and heritage in forming cities' identities, economies, and physical development.Due to the fast-paced urban development, the historical cities come under rough use and are abandoned in a dilapidated state. While most Indian cities don't have a dedicated cell or department for heritage, it is difficult to expect a brighter fate for urban heritage. Moreover, there is practically no mechanism to bring the expertise of central authorities dedicated to heritage in federal urban planning and management processes. While all the development activities call for people's participation, culture and heritage are a highly people-centric phenomenon, and inevitably, its management should start at the community level with people as a bottom-up approach. 

The case studies presented here point out that although the communities are gradually moving to center stage in the heritage management process, the roles are still unclear. The HRIDAY cities have positively tried to engage their stakeholders, community supporters, and visitors in a new agenda. This new plan is more exciting, fulfilling, refreshing, and participatory than before. In establishing an environment for mutual exploration, investigation, and learning at the urban heritage sites, the conservation of cultural heritage assets will be secure, for the time being at least.

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