Ahmedabad is working to maintain its World Heritage City status, with a number of projects including the renovation of the Sanskar Kendra Museum designed by architect Le Corbusier.
Ahmedabad gained the coveted UNESCO World Heritage City status a year ago. However, the status is not necessarily permanent and ratings are reviewed every year.
The walled city area stretches over 5.5 kilometres, with around 400,000 people living in classic wooden homes. UNESCO saw the city as living heritage. In addition, it boasts around 2,600 heritage sites and over two dozen ASI protected monuments and other antiquities. It was the first city in India to gain the status, having narrowing missed out in 2011.
However a report in The Times of India shares the city’s concern that it will retain its status. “If there aren’t enough tourists visiting a particular place or if it is not being maintained as per the basic criteria or laid down guidelines associated, we may lose [the status],” said Jenu Devan, managing director and commissioner of tourism for Gujurat.
Tourism in Ahmedabad has soared since it won the accreditation in July 2017, beating fellow Indian cities New Delhi and Mumbai. “The World Heritage City status has increased the curiosity of both domestic and international tourists,” said Devan.
Protecting heritage sites
Ahmedabad has worked hard to gain the status. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) set up a Heritage Cell in 1996 in order to protect and preserve heritage sites while restoring those which had fallen into disrepair. A decade earlier, the Ford Foundation instituted a project to conserve at risk structures in the walled city.
New ventures over the next two years included the redevelopment of the Sanskar Kendra Museum designed by architect Le Corbusier. However these plans were hampered when there were no applications for the tender to conserve the museum.
Although the museum attracts over a thousand visitors a month, there are no guides and not even a curator. The civic body has been looking for a consultant architect to oversee the restoration work needed with EOIs issued for this and other restoration projects.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets annually to review the list, which was first published in 1978. Representatives from 21 countries assess the options.
Liverpool narrowly avoided losing its status over plans for a proposed waterfront development. It remains in the danger list.
Meanwhile there is some criticism that granting World Heritage status can have the unwanted side effect of increasing tourism so much as to damage the site the award is trying to protect.