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June 2019

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Govt urged to restore, preserve prehistoric rock art in Nilgiris vandalised by tourists

INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Nilgiris chapter, has sought the intervention of the district administration to bring the rock art located at Parivarai in the forest area near Karikaiyur village in Kilkotagiri under the supervision of the state archaeology department and have the heritage site cordoned off. A representation to the collector said the prehistoric rock art had been partly vandalized by miscreants over a period of time. And it is high time the government took some concrete action to preserve the heritage site.

The rock art is believed to be done by local tribes and it depicts their lifestyle. According to sources, to earn money, the villagers themselves take trekkers, tourists and research scholars to the site. S Suresh, Tamil Nadu state convener, INTACH, told TOI, “The rock paintings at Parivarai is definitely prehistoric and may be as old as 10,000 BC and could be comparable to the famous prehistoric rock and tribal art in Madhya Pradesh.” “When I visited the site 15 years ago, graffiti was already there on the paintings. It is difficult to reach the site. That there is more damage to the paintings indicates more people are visiting the site,” he said. The site is 7km inside the forest near Karikaiyur, a Kurumba village. According Suresh, the painting comprises some 500 images of humans and animals.

The style, using red and white in wet colour technique is similar to that found in Madhya Pradesh, one of the oldest rock paintings in the country. “There are theories that right from the Stone Age, tribes lived in the Nilgiris,” he said. Without the help of the local tribals, one cannot reach the rock face which is 300ft high and 500ft long. A deep valley lies below the rock, making it inaccessible. “Visitors have vandalised the site by writing names or symbols on the paintings,” said a local source.

Stating that it is a key evidence of a prehistoric civilization, Suresh said, “The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) or the Tamil Nadu State Archeology Department should take action to preserve the site. They should declare the site as a protected area. Otherwise, the prehistoric art cannot be saved.” The graffiti could be safely removed using chemicals under expert supervision. J Innocent Divya, Nilgiris collector told TOI: “Based on the representation by INTACH-Nilgiris chapter, a letter was sent to the state archaeology department a month ago. The matter will be pursued in the interest of the Nilgiris and its oldest civilization.”

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/govt-urged-to-restore-preserve-prehistoric-rock-art-in-nilgiris-vandalised-by-tourists/articleshow/69640245.cms, June 3, 2019

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19 historic buildings to be preserved in Delhi

With all requisite approvals and budgetary provisions in place, conservation of 19 lesser-known historic buildings, which belong to the state archaeology department, will begin by end of this month. The plan was approved about a year ago and the nod for preparation for the detail project report (DPR) was also given. The list of structures picked for conservation includes eight unidentified tombs, three nameless mosques-- in Mehrauli near Jahaz Mahal, RK Puram (in a government school) and Delhi Golf Club and an ancient building in Nangal Devat Village in southwest Delhi for protection work. The mausoleums, which are not widely known, are located in Lado Sarai, Vasant Vihar, Sundar Nagar, Savitri Nagar, Kaka Nagar, Delhi Golf Club premises and one is located inside Blind School Lodi Road Flyover. Other significant structures to be preserved are Kharbooze ka Gumbad, two burjs (towers) of Mansur, tombs of Mir Taqi, Sayyid Abid, Baghichi and a minaret in Hastsal Village.

“All necessary approvals have been accorded and the work will begin at 19 monuments this month,” Vikas Maloo, Head of Office (Archaeology), Delhi government, said.The department has roped in Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the conservation and restoration work. According to senior Delhi government officials, privy to the matter, the project will cost around Rs 7 crore. “Work could not begin on these monuments due to various reasons. It took us long to seek technical and financial approval from the departments concerned. Later, the project could not take off as the model code of conduct (for the Lok Sabha elections) came into effect. However, all necessary procedures have now been completed,” an official said. Conservation of each structure will cost around Rs 20-Rs 25 lakh depending on their size and area, he added. The conservation bid is part of the department of archaeology’s ambitious project for restoration of historically important buildings in the national capital launched almost 11 years ago.The department had identified 238 structures for their phase-wise preservation and conservation. It signed a pact with INTACH for this purpose in 2008.

Since then, it has taken up repair of about 18 buildings each year. So far, 50 historically significant edifices, including tombs, baolis, and sarais, have been restored. The selection of buildings for preservation is based on recommendations from the offices of lieutenant-governor and chief minister, said the official.Explaining the scope of the work, the official said, “At monuments in Delhi Golf Club, the project is interesting as there is lot of art work.

After surface cleaning, stucco and medallion artwork are to be conserved. Cement plaster will be replaced with the traditional lime plaster, if any. To stop water seepage, water of ceiling is to be done and plinth of protection of the surrounding is also part of the project.” 11 years in the making

The conservation bid is part of the department of archaeology’s ambitious project for restoration of historically important buildings in the national capital launched almost 11 years ago. The department had identified 238 structures for their phase-wise preservation.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2019/jun/02/19-historic-buildings-to-be-preserved-in-delhi-1984776.html, June 3, 2019

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Flora Fountain Mumbai: Landscaping at final stage, fountain plaza to be fully open in a month

The restoration work is being carried out by INTACH Mumbai Chapter along with INTACH Conservation Institute.” According to the heritage team, the restoration contract will cost Rs 1.73 crore while the beautification contract will cost Rs 2.42 crore. The plaza work includes specially cut basalt stones from Gujarat and facade lighting from Japan. In a month’s time, the iconic Flora Fountain, where the landscaping work is in its final stages, will be fully accessible to public after a two-year restoration. AdvertisingThe Flora Fountain was unveiled in January this year when the first phase of its restoration ended.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/mumbai/1368045/flora-fountain-mumbai-landscaping-at-final-stage-fountain-plaza-to-be-fully-open-in-a-month/, June 3, 2019

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Push to get Mauryan-age wall at Rajgir, UNESCO heritage status

The Bihar archaeology department has recommended to the ASI that the Mauryan age fortification wall at Rajgir should be included in the list of the UNESCO sites. Efforts are being made to get Cyclopean wall, a more than 2,500 years old structure at Rajgir, as UNESCO World Heritage Site. In a letter sent to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) a few weeks ago, the Bihar archaeology department has recommended that the Mauryan age fortification wall should be included in the list of the UNESCO sites and has requested the ASI to forward the proposal to the UNESCO.

The directorate has also explained that the 40 km long wall which encircled the entire city of Rajgriha in ancient times, was erected by the Mauryans over a period of time to protect Magadhan kingdom from invaders and enemies and though only some portions of the structure exist now, it reminds one of the great administrative abilities of the mighty Magadhan empire and that it deserves to get the world heritage monument status. The Cyclopean wall which is already a nationally protected monument under the ASI, drew attention for UNESCO status when CM Nitish Kumar visited the site during one of his visits to the Rajgir in November 2017. It was announced there that government would take efforts to bring this structure among the UNESCO sites.

Hardly a few months before chief minister’s Rajgir visit that year, ruins of the ancient age Nalanda University were declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO while the Mahabodhi temple, the site where Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya had achieved this status in June 2002. “It’s great that state government has initiated the work to get fortification wall in UNESCO list. Two monuments of the state, the Mahabodhi and Nalanda University ruins are already in this list and if the new initiatives get materialised, the region will have three world heritage monuments,” H S Naik, superintending archaeologist, Patna Circle, ASI, said.

“This time also state archaeology has been consulting with the facts and details of the fortification wall and has provided us a copy of proposal as well. If things materialise and it makes into the tentative list, we will work together to prepare the dossier needed for the final declaration,” he said. Atul Kumar Verma, the state archaeology director said, the department had this structure in mind for the recommendation to be made for UNESCO status. “The Great Wall of China is already in the list and for this wall it was chief minister’s announcement which put it on the priority list,” he said.

First there’s an effort for the tentative list. There already exist over 50 (recommended by the countries from around the world) monuments and sites and only one piece is chosen from that tentative list in a year for the world status by UNESCO, he added. “We had submitted the Rajgir proposal to the ASI in April this year and are now waiting for the response,” he said.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/patna/push-to-get-mauryan-age-wall-at-rajgir-unesco-heritage-status/story-VDKVpkGWdqsNmq6j83HE7H.html, June 4, 2019

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World Environment Day observed across Nagaland

Leading the commemoration of World Environment Day 2019, a large number of educational institutions in different parts of Nagaland organized awareness programme and tree plantation drive on June 4 and 5. Various NGOs and other organizations also observed the day under the theme ‘Air Polluting.’

GMS Trongar: The Eco Club of Government Middle School Trongar ‘A’ under Tuensang district observed World Environment Day with the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution’ in collaboration with Nagaland Pollution Control Board at the School premises. The resource materials like banners and bookmarks which were given by the Nagaland Pollution Control Board for awareness were distributed to the students. Plantation drive was conducted within the school campus.

CEC School: World Environment Day was commemorated at Community Education Centre School, Dimapur. The students of CEC School enjoyed pot-making organized by the arts and crafts club. The school also organized other activities such as quiz, drawing and essay competition to sensitize the students. Chakhesang Mission HSS: Chakhesang Mission Higher Secondary, T. Chikri, Pfutsero observed World Environment Day with the theme ‘Air Pollution.’

The program was chaired by Chepre Tsido, PG. Teacher followed by prayer and the speech on the theme was delivered by Mululü Tunyi. In order to create awareness among the students’ community, the school conducted the activities such as arts and painting, poster making and planting trees in the school premises. The teachers along with some students also took part in cleaning the school surroundings.

Charis High Academy: Schools from Chümoukedima participated in various competitions organized and hosted by Charis High Academy on World Environment Day. The administrator C J Aier of the school enlightened the students and teachers about this year’s theme ‘Air Pollution.’ The competition began with collage making, painting, flower arrangement (both dry and fresh).

One of the most exciting event of the day was mobile videography under the theme ‘environmental issues and solutions.’ The school gave away cash prizes for the winners and the runners up and certificates for the all the participants. Debate was the closing event of the day under the theme ‘environmental damage is an inevitable part of development.’ A food festival was also hosted by the Eco club of the school.

The programme concluded with the distribution of bamboo saplings donated by Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency, Dimapur to all participating schools.

Bethesda HSS: Bethesda Hr. Sec. Sec. School, Dimapur commemorated the World Environment Day with painting competition, skits, seminar, and social work with the theme ‘Air Pollution’ on June 4. It will be continued with musical dance, skits, and songs on environment from senior group.

Woodland HSS: The 25th NL (I) COY Woodland Higher Secondary School Boys NCC along with the rest of the students observed the World Environment Day. The programme started with a short speech from the school Vice Principal on the topic ‘Beat Air Pollution.’ the NCC Cadets and the students planted different types of tree saplings around the school compound and outside the school compound. The students also carried out cleanliness drive and cleaned up the school surrounding areas.

More than 40 NCC Boys Cadets and 200 Students from Higher classes participated in the programme. Pfutsero Government College: Pfutsero Government College observed World Environment Day with the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution and Save the Earth’ at the college by conducting a paper bag making training. The programme organized by Pfutsero Town Council in collaboration with NSS, Pfutsero Government College was graced by the ADC Pfutsero Zeniekhonou Zumvu. The resource persons for the paper bag making training were from Phek Youth Society. Nuyi Hoshi, Convnere Clean Green Operation, Phek Town Youth Society (PTYS) spoke on the occasion and he was accompanied with Vice President PTYS Seyiengoi Soho, Project Incharge Thonga Mulekho Chuzho, and Amen Jamir and Nuzotolu Thonga Worker.

Free registration, materials and certificates were given to all the participants. Earlier, the college students planted flowers and cleaned the college surrounding to commemorate the day.

Peren Government College: The Peren Government College observed the World Environment Day in the College on June 5 by organizing social work and planting trees in the present campus.

MGM College: MGM College Dimapur observed World Environment Day with the theme ‘Air pollution.’ The event was conducted at the college auditorium with participation from the students community on topics related to Air Pollution. Competitions such as essay, art and slogans was conducted, followed by debate on the topic ‘Development vs Environment.’

MGM HSS: MGM Hr Sec School observed World Environment Day. Headmaster of the school, B.Paul addressing the students stated that for a healthy life it is our prime duty to keep our surroundings pollution free and take proper measures to keep our environment neat and clean. Students from high school and higher secondary participated in several activities like speech, dramas and songs.

NN Nagi School: NN Nagi School, Dimapur observed World Environment Day with the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution’ at the school premises. Marking the special day, the School organized rare projects activities on how to combat air pollution and plantation drive around the school premises. Exhorting the students, Nibu Nagi, chairman of the school, urged student to strive to protect and conserve environment.

Thejanguno Kin Nagi, Assistant Headmistress, said, the school authority motivated the students to plant more and more trees in order to combat not only air pollution but also to contribute something back to the environment. Later, the school made Projects on “Cause and prevention of air pollution.”

St John College: A three day celebration to mark world environment day 2019 at St John College began on June 4 guided by the Department of Botany and Eco Club. On day 1, students commenced a general awareness programme highlighting the importance of conserving nature and minimising air pollution by presenting posters and placards. On the 2nd day students and staff spend time working in the botanical garden and other areas of the campus planting saplings, while on the 3rd day further awareness programs shall be carried out along with removal of plastic litter from the college campus.

Reflecting on the 2019 theme of ‘Air Pollution’ all waste gathered shall be disposed in a responsible way avoiding haphazard burning.

Touch of Hope School: Marking World Environment Day, Touch of Hope School in Shokhuvi, Dimapur celebrated the event with the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution.’ Speaking on the occasion, Science teacher Bikash Mandal informed the assembled students about the causes and destructive impacts of air pollution on our lives and environment and encourages students to do their small parts in combating air pollution. Director of the Touch of Hope Ministries, Nungsangmeren planted a tree sapling on the school premises to mark the event and encouraged students to plant more trees in the environment. The school also organized a painting competition and social work in the school campus.

G. Rio School: G. Rio School Kohima undertook cleanliness drive along the streets of Kohima town on June 4 in commemoration of World Environment Day.

Rajeshwari Karuna School: The Rajeshwari Karuna School Tuli, principal along with the teachers initiated the commemoration of the World Environment Day. The school children planted 120 saplings around the school campus.

Royal Foundation School: The Royal Foundation School, Phek commemorated World Environment Day based on the theme ‘Air pollution.’ Highlighting the significance of the day, Mhethowe-u spoke on the danger and harmful effects of air pollution and cited various irrational human activities that pollute the air. A short act displaying the causes and effects of air pollution with the help of pictorial chart was performed by the primary students under the guidance of Veluvolu and Kavili while Class 9 girl students presented a musical performance. The function concluded with a pledge from the students to strive towards a cleaner and healthier environment.

Kohima Law College: With the theme ‘Air Pollution’ the Kohima Law College observed World Environment Day cum social work on June 4. The Professor-in-Charge Kezhokhoto Savi gave the keynote address while other Assistant Professors including Moasenla and Soni stressed on the importance of environment protection and the uncivilized practices which harm human health such as opening septic-tank, keeping pigsty, etc. which are actually an insult to the so called – Kohima Smart City.

LM Higher Secondary School: World Environment Day was observed by the LM higher Secondary School, Mhainamtsi Peren students and staff. Various activities were held including planting of trees and flowers in and around the school campus, filling up of potholes along the highway near the school and cleaning of the areas around the school. A painting competition on the theme ‘plants trees save lives’ was also conducted which had 35 participants from classes 5 to 12. Prizes were awarded to both the seniors and juniors separately.

Immanuel College: Eco Club Immanuel College organised a cleanliness drive, plantation of trees and distribution of plant saplings in and around the College vicinity on account of World Environment Day. A total of 35 Eco Club members participated in the drive and distributed plant saplings to 45 households in Lengrijan, Taxes and Duncan areas. The students also interacted with the neighbours making them aware about the importance of planting trees.

DGC: Dimapur Government College in collaboration with DGC Alumni Association organised a social work and tree plantation program in and around the college campus to commemorate World Environment Day. Teachers, staff, students and alumni gathered in good numbers to clean the surroundings, fence certain portions, and also planted saplings using materials donated by DMC, Forest Departent, Principal and teachers.

JN Aier College: J.N Aier College, Dimapur observed World Environment Day on organized by the NSS Unit & ECO Club of the college. Flex competition was held on this year’s theme ‘Air Pollution’ with Auguste Comte Guardianship declared as the winner of the competition. Limatemjen, Principal of JN Aier College gave a talk on the theme and stressed on the harmful effects of Pollution.

Yemhi Memorial College: The Eco Club, NSS Unit and EVS Department of Yemhi Memorial College, Nepali Basti Dimapur observed World Environment Day on June 4 under the theme ‘Air Pollution.’ The resource person Kezia Yepthomi from Ambedkar University, New Delhi gave a discourse on the impact of human negligence to conserve and preserve the environment with the aid of Power Point presentation and Video Clips. The awareness Campaign was followed by a practical move of cleaning the college campus and the vicinity nearby. Agape School: Agape School Kiphire organised painting competition and social work in the school campus on the occasion of World Environment Day with the theme ‘ Beat Plastic Pollution’.

Speaking at the occasion, Kitoka, teacher incharge, Eco club highlighted the issue faced across the state and country due to air pollution. The eco club members also planted tree in the campus.

GHSS Pfutsero: The Government Higher Secondary School Pfutsero observed World Environment Day 2019 with the theme ‘Beat air pollution.’ The students and staff planted cosmos flowers in the GHSS school compound and carried out cleanliness campaign at Pfutsero town. The teachers and students picked waste in the town and spread the message of clean air environment. The waste collections were later disposed at Pfutsero town waste disposal side. More than 500 teachers and students participated in the cleanliness campaign, according to Kelhikha Kenye, vice principal GHSS Pfutsero.

MMC: The Mokokchung Municipal Council (MMC) observed World Environment Day by organizing various activities in collaboration with a host of groups and organizations. Under the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution’, the MMC headed by W. Manpai Phom ADC & Administrator MMC planted trees around MMC Shopping complex, Dr. Imkongliba Memorial District Hospital, District Jail and Imkongmeren Sports Complex. The Mokokchung District Legal Services Authority, Socio Environment Management Board, Aongza and Run Mokokchung Group participated. SDRF of the Nagaland Disaster Management also helped and participated in the different activities.

The various activities included beautification of the interior of MMC Shopping Complex by planting air purifier plants, beautification of commercial places by green plants, conversion of garbage vulnerable points to flower gardens and art work on environment awareness campaign.

Run Mokokchung group also participated by collecting of trash while jogging in the main town area at early morning hours followed by tree plantation at Mokokchung Park.

Trailblazer Society: On the occasion of World Environment Day, the Trailblazer Society committed themselves towards greener community, environment and healthy life. The Society in association with The Maple Tree School and Department of fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Brooder Fish farm, Half Nagarjan, Dimapur planted trees at their premises.

Tzula Green Zone Project: The Tzula (Dikhu) Green Zone Project Management Committee organised a plantation drive at the project site in commemoration of World Environment Day. The plantation drive was volunteered by the Trained Nurses Association of Mokokchung.

Ahthibung Region Club: Nearly 210 participants attended World Environment Day organised by Ahthibung Region Club in Collaboration with Assam Rifles Ahthibung, PS, Ahthibung, PHC-Ahthibung, GHS Ahthibung and Ahthibung Youths and Students Union. The participants planted 55 trees while a talk on the environment was delivered by AR officer. SDO Civil Ahthibung also gave a lecture to GHS Ahthibung students. INTACH Nagaland: On the occasion of World Environment Day, the Nagaland Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture –INTACH, participated in undertaking a tree plantation drive.

Over 150 saplings comprising of shade and ornamental trees were planted in the State Stadium, Dimapur. INTACH Nagaland would like to thank the DSO, Dimapur for giving permission for the plantation drive within the State Stadium, and to the Forest Office, Dimapur, for distributing the tree saplings.

PVYO: The Phek Village Youth Organization (PVYO) in association with Forest Department (DFO) Phek observed World Environment Day on June 5 at Phek Village. Salie Khesoh, class- I contractor was the speaker of the programme and called upon the people to conserve environment for better tomorrow. State Silviculturist: The Office of the State Silviculturist Kohima which is a Division of the Department of Environment Forest and Climate Change, undertook plantation drive at Forest Colony in collaboration with the Working Plan Division Kohima as part of observing the World Environment Day.

Species of Ginkgo biloba, Cryptomeria, weeping willow, cephalotaxus, Rhododendron and oak were planted. The Division also distributed saplings to interested institutions and individuals for plantation. This year, the Division distributed thousands of seedlings of indigenous species to various institutions and organisations within Kohima as well as other districts.

Altrura Society: Altrura Society (AuS) in collaboration with Chümoukedima Town Council (CTC) conducted a painting competition in commemoration of the World Environment Day at Chümoukedima Town Council Hall. A total of 63 students from 21 schools took part in the competition. In the competition, Watijungla from Little Flower School Chümoukedima won the first prize, Imtiloba from Mt Mary Hr. Sec School and Neilhouvino Christi from St. Joseph Hr. sec school bagged the second and third prizes respectively.

Meanwhile, introductory speech on World Environment Day under the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution’ and ‘Waste Management’ was given by Thejavizo Nakhro, EAC & Administrator Chümoukedima Town Council, Pastor Zhau Sanchu, Principal Hope Theological College also spoke on ‘the Beautiful creation of God.’

Balijan Youth Club: In a bid to protect and preserve the environment Balijan Youth Club under the theme ‘Beat Air pollution’ observed World Environment Day at Balijan. Kishore Chettri, president of the club addressed the gathering. Later, the youth members planted plant sapling in and around the club house. 93 Battalion BSF: The 93 Battalion Border Security Force (BSF) observed, World Environment Day at its battalion headquarters, Chedema. Led by battalion Commandant, Surinder Singh and his wife, Dr. Amanpreet Kaur planted 400 saplings.

Officers, their wives and jawans joined the occasion. Narendra Yadav, 2/ic, RS Gautom Deputy Commandant and Amit Kumar Singh, Deputy Commandant and Adjutant also took part in the plantation.

Wokha Forest Division: Wokha Forest Division celebrated World Environment Day at Doyang Beat Office, Chukitong Wokha, with SDO (C), Wokha Chonbenthung Ezung as the special guest under the theme ‘Air Pollution.’ District Forest Officer, Wokha Zuthunglo Patton, IFS while giving the key note address informed that this year the department of Forest has already distributed around fifty thousand sapling within the district.

Later plantation of saplings was carried out in an around the Doyang Beat office premises, officials and the participants present during the function took part in the plantation drive.

Forest Range Office, Chümoukedima: On the occasion of World Environment Day, the Forest Range Office, Chümoukedima headed by the Forest Ranger Imkongsunep Longchar in collaboration with the administration distributed tree saplings to various schools under Chümoukedima Range. In a brief programme held at GPS Khriesephe, the importance of trees in mitigating the ill effects of air pollution and its benefit in environment conservation were highlighted.

Thereafter, under the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution,’ around 1000 tree saplings of various species which included Bokul, Rain tree, Acacia, Gulmohar etc. were distributed to GMSs Chümoukedima, Tenyiphe II, GPSs Virazouma, Khriezephe and GHS Sovima.

Indianeers Skills Academy: Indianeers Skills Academy, Gorkha Public Panchayat Complex Chandmari Kohima organised World Environment Day along with faculty, staff and students.

GVSU: In commemoration with the yearlong golden jubilee celebration of Gariphema Village Students’ Union (GVSU), Gariphema village observed World Environment Day by planting ornamental tree. The plantation drive was powered by Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) Gariphema. District Forest Office Kohima provided saplings.

Department of Horticulture: Commemorating the World Environment Day, a plantation drive under the theme ‘Air Pollution- Breath Healthy, Live Healthy’ was organised by the department of Horticulture Government of Nagaland at Dimapur Airport. More than 300 saplings of Indian Iron tree was planted in the stretch of road leading towards Dimapur Airport. Principal Secretary Horticulture, M.K.Mero planted the first tree followed by DC Dimapur, Keveka Kevin Zehol, Airport Director, M Zhimo and others. Besides plantation drive, the team also cleaned and picked all the non- biodegradable plastics along the road to make the place not only green but clean.

Along with the Horticulture department, the Airport Authority of India and other stakeholders including CISF, Indian oil, Bharat Petroleum, Indigo, Air India also participated in the plantation and cleanliness drive to celebrate World Environment Day.

Kiphire: Clean and healthy environment is the right for everyone, Shayung Phom, Deputy Commissioner Kiphire said while addressing the students, citizens, well-wishers and the department on the World Environment Day held at Town Central Point, Kiphire.

The DC planted tree to mark of the occasion. He also gave away the award for cleanest colony and best dustbin competition. Rajesh Kumar, DFO territorial, Suman Sivachar, Wild Life Warden and Atsase OSD Forest Department also spoke on the occasion. Saramati School presented skit.

Observation and Special Homes: World Environment Day was observed at Observation Homes and Special Homes across Nagaland. Observation Homes and Special Homes are Child Care Institutes for children in conflict with law, under the establishment of Child Protection Services Nagaland.

OSC Wokha: One Stop Centre, Wokha observed World environment Day in collaboration with ICDS, Adolescent Girls Club, Pinewood School, Bethsaida School and Anganwadi Worker under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, where altogether 41 persons have participated. Events such as paper bags making and free distribution of paper bags, pamphlets and flyers were carried out. Nancy Lotha, Case Worker, OSC Wokha briefed the participants why the World Environment Day was celebrated and importance of protecting the environment for the young tomorrow.

She also briefed about OSC and the services provided under OSC scheme for women and girls affected by violence. One thousands paper bags were also made by the OSC team where the students of Pinewood School and Bethsaida School assisted in making the paper bags. The items were distributed for free to 105 shops within Wokha town area. In the process the shopkeepers and shop owners were also made aware about One Stop Centre and insisted to stop using plastic to save the environment for better tomorrow.

Pfutseromi Village Council: The Pfutseromi Village Council observed World Environment Day at Pfutseromi Village along with the Forest Department Pfutsero Range. Forest Department Pfutsero Range under Forest Ranger Dietho Swuro provided tree saplings to the village for plantation in and around the village. The tree saplings were handed over to the village council to be distributed to the villager. Thepucuyi Yhobu, Forester spoke on the importance of taking care of environment and the need to plant more trees.

Pfutseromi Village Council Chairman, M. Mero delivered the concluding remark. 78th Battalion of CRPF: The 78th Battalion of CRPF observed World Environment Day at its Zubza Headquarters, Kohima and in all Company Head Quarters.

In tune with the United Nations theme for World Environment Day 2019 – ‘Connecting People to Nature’, the DGP, Ops Kohima Sarbjith Singh, Unit Commandant Surender Singh along with others planted more than 200 trees in the camp area. Plantations were also made in the seven sub-units of the Battalion deployed at Kohima and Dimapur.

DFoN: Observing World Environment Day members of Dream Foundation of Nagaland (DFoN) conducted tree plantation drive and planted tree saplings at Government Primary School (Sumi) Purana Bazaar, Government Middle School Toluvi village and Government Middle School, Padumpukhuri on June 5.

- https://morungexpress.com/world-environment-day-observed-across-nagaland/, June 6, 2019

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Why did a part of Hyderabad’s Moula Ali kamaan, a protected monument, fall off?

A part of the 19th-century monument fell when heavy rains lashed Hyderabad. A portion of the Moula Ali kamaan (arch), the gateway to the historic Hazrat Ali dargah, was destroyed in the rains that lashed Hyderabad two days ago. A part of the top portion of the kamaan fell and the debris hit a car passing below, but no pedestrians or passengers suffered injuries. The kamaan now stands as a symbol of another 19thcentury monument in the city on the verge of collapse due to neglect, mainly from the state archaeological department, which is in charge of its upkeep.

A month ago, panic prevailed among tourists in the city after a part of one of the minarets of Charminar collapsed. Last year, one of the city’s iconic bus shelters, the Mississippi Hangar, crumbled in just one day. The kamaan was inspected by a team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on Tuesday, and members say that years of neglect and movement of vehicular traffic through the kamaan led to the collapse. Anuradha Reddy, a member of the team who visited the site, tells TNM that one of the main reasons for a part of the kamaan to fall was the stagnation of rainwater.

“The top portion of the kamaan had a stagnant pool of water as there were frequent rains in the area over the past month. This eventually seeped through the walls and damaged the already weak structure,” Anuradha says. Also important to note is the number of vehicles that pass through the kamaan every day. Cycles, cars, trucks and every kind of vehicle crosses the kamaan, the vibrations of which are enough for the monument to crack. The kamaan serves as an entrance to the Moula Ali dargah, which was constructed at a time when bullock carts were the main mode of transport. The arch was also used by the Nizams, who took out processions on elephants to visit the shrine. “Yesterday, when we were at the site, we saw a car struggling to make its way through the kamaan. It finally took the pedestrians to tell the driver that it was impossible for him to make it through the entrance. Vehicular movement was stopped for a little while to clear the debris after the collapse, but traffic was back to normal within 24 hours,” she says.

A part of the kamaan had collapsed after an accident in 2007 when a heavy vehicle rammed into the structure. This created a controversy, as motorists demanded that the kamaan be razed for better accessibility. In 2010, the kamaan was declared as a protected monument by the state. Activists say that it was only in 2011 that the monument was restored using lime and mortar after a High Court directive.

While the neglect on the part of the state archaeology department is evident, pedestrians and the public are also to be blamed, says Anuradha. “The structure has been heavily misused by the public by scribbling and painting the graffiti on the walls. Public neglect is more appalling,” she adds. An estimate of the damage on the monument is yet to be made. But, Anuradha Reddy raises an important question: “Telangana is home to 347 monuments of historical importance. If the fate of a structure which is located in the prime of a city is like this, do we even need to talk about the other 346 in various parts of the state?”

- https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/why-did-part-hyderabad-s-moula-ali-kaaman-protected-monument-fall-103057, June 6, 2019

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Himachal folk art expo at National Museum from Friday

About 240 folk artefacts, including textiles, 'mohras' and masks, from medieval and modern Himachal Pradesh, will be on display at "Unknown Masterpieces of Himachal Folk Art" that opens on Friday at the National Museum here.

The exhibition aims to highlight the folk art tradition of Himachal Pradesh and offers an idea of what must have existed in "Punjab Hill States", Himachal's erstwhile British name. The show, which will run till July 31, will pay a tribute to K.C. Aryan, founder of the Museum of Folk, Tribal, and Neglected Art.

A majority of exhibits have been sourced from Aryan's collection. "National Museum wants to conserve our cultural heritage, not only of classical nature, but also of folk relations. Art of all natures must be taken care of," Sanjib Kumar Singh, museologist and spokesperson of the National Museum, told. The exhibition will be inaugurated by Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel.

- https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/himachal-folk-art-expo-at-national-museum-from-friday/1549623, June 7, 2019

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Through an oral literature festival, a bid to save languages of the Northeast

At heart of The Listener, a performative oral literature festival, is a more noble cause: archiving and preserving the lesser-known languages of one of the richest and most diverse language families in the world. Later this year, there will be a Northeast-focused literature festival in Tripura. However, like most “lit-fests” around the world, this one won’t be about readers and writers, or even books and written texts. The Listener — organised by Manipur-based Imasi Foundation and INTACH Tripura - is a festival of oral literature concentrating on the Tibeto-Burman group of languages of Northeast India.

In the event, tentatively slated for December, visitors won’t encounter book readings or author-constituted panel discussions, but poems, hymns, ballads and stories — all performed to highlight literature of different kind. “A kind that does not have to be necessarily read. And a kind that is passed down from generation to generation, from mouth to ear,” says Somi Roy, Founder and Managing Trustee, Imasi Foundation. “All literature festivals in india are about written books.

At best, they will have a panel on oral literature. But rarely are entire fests dedicated to oral literature,” says Imphal-based Roy.

Archiving the festival
While the idea took root in Roy’s home state, Manipur, the festival will cover languages from all the eight Northeastern states. “We can impose political boundaries but there are no boundaries in languages,” says Roy. A film and media curator, who earlier lived in New York, he was drawn to the larger issue of cultural conservation ever since he started the Imasi Foundation in a bid to to preserve the works of his famous writer mother, the late MK Binodini Devi, a member of the royal family of Manipur. The festival, which is in its initial stages of planning, will have a variety of performances: a ballad tradition from Manipur, a folk music performance from Nagaland, and so on.

But at the heart of these all is language — many of which are oral, have a very few speakers, and are without scripts and sometimes, even writing systems. The Northeast, with its rich and diverse tribal culture, accounts for more than 200 literary traditions of the Tibeto-Burman language group, which falls under the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. The very diverse group has many languages which are oral, tribal and performative.

It is these languages, at the risk of fading into oblivion that The Listener is trying to preserve. “How do we do it?” asks Roy, “By turning these festival performances into archival products.” In the run up to the festival is a series of workshops — the first of which will take place this month in Delhi — training a cadre of archivists to document each performance.

“What is the song, who is singing it, what does it mean, who is the community who composed it, what is their history, who wrote it, how old is it? These are the questions we will try to answer,” says Roy. The product — in video and audio format — will then be stored in two mammoth and continually growing digital archives at the University of North Texas and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) Delhi, the two collaborative partners for the exercise. “We can have people come and tell their stories but if we don’t archive the information, this won’t be more than just a fun, feel-good event," says Shobhana Chelliah, Professor of Linguistics at the College of Information, University of North Texas.

These archival workshops — helmed by Dr Chelliah, along with Ramesh C Gaur, who heads the Kalanidhi Division at the IGNCA — are actually the centrepiece of the festival, and also the first of its kind to happen in India.

Are the languages of the Northeast dying?
The diversity of the Northeast means that its residents, some belonging to the same state, speak languages of different linguistic families. While Assamese and Bengali fall under the Indo-European family, Manipuri (Meiteillon), Mizo, Bodo, Kachari, Lepcha are some which fall under the Tibetan-Burman group of languages (which, in turn, belongs to the Sino Tibetan family).

"The Sino-Tibetan family includes Chinese has several million speakers. But as you come from China into Southeast Asia and then to India, while there is a rich diversity of languages, the number [of speakers] start to go down,” says Dr Chelliah, adding that some of these languages are spoken by very small tribal communities. But even within the sub-group, there are variations. For example, there is a well-resourced language like Meitei in Manipur which has a 1500-year-old writing system.

“But on the flip side, there are low-resourced ones like Purum, also spoken in Manipur, which has just 300 speakers!” says Dr Chelliah. While the former is backed by a body of manuscripts, the latter is at the risk of disappearing soon. “These languages, spoken by smaller communities, have less inter-generational transmission,” explains Dr Chelliah. That basically means children, often moving out of their homes, do not end up talking in the language their parents once did.
A host of factors contribute to this — political unrest and economic aspirations, among others.

"Many of these languages don’t have writing systems — and while that is important from the literature point-of-view, it is certainly not the only thing needed to sustain the language," says Dr Chelliah, “What is really required to sustain a language is a community of speakers preserving it," says Chelliah. Roy’s The Listener festival is hoping to inspire people to do just that.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/through-an-oral-literature-festival-a-bid-to-save-languages-of-the-northeast-5770856/, June 10, 2019

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Heritage walks soon at Delhi Golf Club, says government

Archaeology dept has written to Delhi Golf Club to allow sightseers to visit the old monuments once their conservation is complete. Heritage lovers and history enthusiasts may soon get access to the ensemble of historic structures — constructed during the Tughlaq period (1320-1413) or the Mughal rule (1526-1857) — that are present on the sprawling Delhi Golf Club spread across over 220 acres. A senior Delhi government official, associated with the conservation of ancient buildings, said the state archaeology department, in a joint initiative with the club, will create facilities for sightseers, who intend to visit the old structures at the golf course. "We have written to the club to allow entry of general visitors after their (the structures) conservation.

Their only concern is safety of visitors. But, the club administration has now agreed to (consider). We will explore possibilities on how to provide safe movement of visitors at the course. We may have dedicate passageways leading to all monuments for the tourists,” said the official. Currently, the club administration arranges solicited tours under its supervision. Set up in the 1930s, the Delhi Golf Club is dotted with a cluster of eight monuments, including a mosque from the Mughal period. One among them is the Lal Bangla, possibly named after Lal Kunwar, mother of Mughal King Shah Alam II. Apart from three unknown tombs, the campus has sepulchres of Sayyid Abid, companion of Mughal general Nursat Jang and Mir Taqi. While Lal Bangla is a notified monument in the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI’s) list, other structures are under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government’s archaeology department. As the department has got all requisite approvals and budgetary provisions, the conservation of significant buildings is likely to begin by end of June. Another significant structure at the golf campus is Barah Khamba — 12 dressed massive stone columns topped by domes under which lies an unknown grave. Barring the Lal Bangla, the remaining monuments generally remain inaccessible to common visitors as they are located deep inside the putting area of golfers.

The proposed plan for unhindered access to the cluster of the monuments inside the golf club complex has received accolades from heritage experts and historians. Historian and author Rana Safvi said it was a good idea because this slice of history should not remain hidden from heritage lovers. “The Delhi Golf Club complex, which was developed over burial ground of Sultanate and Mughal dynasties, comprises significant structures like Lal Bangla and Sayyid Abid’s Tomb. There are beautiful mausoleums. They should be open to all,” she said. Built during the late Mughal period around 1779-80, Lal Bangla is made of red sandstone and Lakhori bricks. A garden enclosure contains three domed mausoleums, including that of Mughal princess Begum Jaan.

According to Asar-us-Sanadid, an account of monuments and environs of the pre-colonial city of Delhi, by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Lal Bangla also houses the graves of princes of the Timurid family such as Mirza Sultan Parvez and Mirza Dara Bakht. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage director (projects) Ajay Kumar said if both the parties — Delhi’s archaeology department and Delhi Golf Club — mutually agreed, then the dates and time slots can be fixed for visitors.

“The tours can be facilitated when the golf course is closed or no game is being played. Following their mutual understanding, dates and time can be decided to hold heritage tour like it is done at the Rashtrapati Bhavan,” Kumar said. The office-bearer at Delhi Golf Club couldn’t be reached for his comments.

Monuments at the golf course
Spread across 220 acres of land, Delhi Golf Club has its own set of monuments that are believed to be built during Tughlaq period (1320-1413) or are from the era of the Mughal rule (1526-1857)

Sayyid Abid’s Tomb
This early Mughal tomb was also known as Shaheed Ki Dargah, according to historian Rana Safvi. It had a tank and water channels in its courtyard but these are now desolate. However, a swimming pool exists next to the building, which is accessible through a grand three-door pavilion.

Mughal Vaulted Tomb
Unlike other tombs in the complex, this tomb has a vaulted roof but the graves are missing. Built on a square platform, it is a Lakhori brick masonry and devoid of any decorative elements.

Barah Khamba
Heritage experts are divided over the period of its construction. While Rana Safvi in her book ‘The Forgotten Cities of Delhi’ says it dates to the Lodi era, an INTACH booklet claims that the construction of domes suggests that they belonged to the Tughlaq period

Unknown Mughal Tomb
Located at the western edge along Golf Link, the tomb does not have evidence of period of its construction. The tomb is crowned by a dome with arched niches, and has painted decorations on the parapet, ceiling, and walls. It is home to three unknown graves

Tomb of Bagichi
Confined within a small garden, the tomb of Bagichi was originally surrounded by four walls. The walls and ceilings are ornamented with frescoes. There are two graves inside

Mir Taqi’s Tomb
This single-domed tomb stands over a slightly raised platform. One of the prominent features of this structure is the fluted dome with an inverted lotus crest and decorations in incised plaster

Late Mughal era mosque
This nameless mosque is made of Lakhori brick masonry. The mosque is in a crumbling state as its significant portion has collapsed

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2019/jun/10/heritage-walks-soon-at-delhi-golf-club-says-government-1988271.html, June 10, 2019

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Urban Haat to be re-inaugurated on August 15

A private firm, outsourced by the Amritsar Development Authority (ADA), has claimed to make the Urban Haat functional till August 15. But, development work is yet to begin there. The buildings of the Urban Haat are lying abandoned. Officials of the firm say they have prepared everything on paper and scheduled August 15 for reopening of the Urban Haat. Constructed with an aim to boost the city’s tourism, the replica of the famous Lahore Food Street has been crying for attention of the Amritsar Development Authority for long as the project is non-functional even three years after its inauguration. The Amritsar Development Authority (ADA) had sublet it to a Bathinda-based firm in November 2018.

The company will pay Rs 81 lakh annually to the ADA and has rights to accommodate food brands. The ADA had given the company time to make arrangements and will start collecting rent from July 11. Amarjit Singh, owner of the firm, said, “We are all set to make the Urban Haat functional.

The first phase will be inaugurated on August 15. The company will start its marketing process soon. The repair and paint work on the building is going on. A large number of multinational brands will open their outlets.” It is worth mentioning here that the then BJP-SAD government in the state had restored and revamped the abandoned 124-year-old colonial-era building of Victoria Jubilee Hospital in consultation with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage to attract tourists to taste Amritsar’s cuisine in 2015.

The project was inaugurated by the then deputy chief minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, in May 2016 amidst much fanfare by organising Amritsar Heritage Festival in which people from 20 different states had taken part.

- https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/urban-haat-to-be-re-inaugurated-on-august-15/785783.html, June 10, 2019

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India gets its first dinosaur museum in Gujarat

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday inaugurated India’s first dinosaur and fossil park at Raiyoli village in Mahisagar district. This museum will give visitors a true Jurassic Park feel. According to government officials, Raiyoli is globally known to be the third largest fossil site and the second-largest dinosaur hatchery from where about 10,000 dinosaur eggs have been found. This dinosaur museum will have modern technology like 3D projection, virtual reality presentations, interactive kiosks, and life-size dinosaur replicas. The museum will also have an environment recreated like the prehistoric era when dinosaurs moved around freely in Raiyoli.

As many as 50 sculptures of dinosaurs including a life-size sculpture of the Rajasaurus Narmadensis, found in Gujarat, have been erected around the museum. After inaugurating the museum, Rupani said, “All efforts will be made to promote the site internationally for tourism purpose.” The Gujarat government has announced that it will allocate Rs 10 crore to promote the site internationally.

- https://www.mynation.com/india-news/india-gets-its-first-dinosaur-museum-in-gujarat-pstimf, June 10, 2019

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Did you know that CST, BMC building were built by Freemasons?

A page in the diary of Silurian Lodge in South Wales has the name of Frederick William Steven, the architect of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) building, who was initiated into Freemasonry in 1875. The District Grand Lodge of Bombay, the city’s masonic centre, organised a heritage walk on Sunday show Mumbaiites the connection between Freemasonry and Mumbai’s heritage structures. Freemasonry began in the late 16th and early 17th centuries in England and Scotland and entered India in the early 18th century. It is considered to be the world’s largest closed-door fraternity of stonemasons. “There are many heritage structures in south Mumbai that have connections with Freemasonry. For example, the initiation for first lodge to admit Indians into Freemasonry took place at the Town Hall. However, not much is known about this history and its connection to Mumbai,” R Ventakesh of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

According to Venkatraman P, the deputy district grandmaster, District Grand Lodge of Bombay, as the north-east corner of a house or any building is auspicious in vaastu, similarly, according to the tenets of Freemasonry, the foundation stone is laid in the north-east direction. “The pattern has been found at TCS headquarters in town and even at Freemasons’ Hall [in Fort],” said Venkatraman. Speaking about the contributions of Freemasons, Ventakesh added that even as the trend during the time Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headquarters were built was to follow Victorian gothic architecture, this building have been built in Indo-Saracenic architectural form. “What we see is that freemasons have expanded their horizon beyond politics and religion, among other aspects, to follow their principles of being fair and square.

You can see this in the way they have meticulously handled their tasks, just like how Pherozeshah Mehta has been instrumental in making BMC what it is today,” said Ventakesh. Speaking about other Freemasons who have contributed towards betterment of the country, Venkatraman mentioned former Viceroy Lord Ripon, after whom Ripon Club at Fort is named. “During his period, Lord Ripon introduced a bill whereby Indian judges could judge Europeans, a distinct impossibility until then,” said Venkatraman. “Freemasons believe that it is important to be upright and be within limits, and that is evident in the harmony experienced in early days of Bombay, where there was no greed. Now, morals have declined in public life.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/did-you-know-that-cst-bmc-building-were-built-by-freemasons/story-B4hJF6UjnbVuvgZ40d3qcO.html June 11, 2019

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Preservation of Wakf properties in Delhi caught in red tape

Bureaucratic technicalities and lack of interest showed by the stakeholders have led to shelving of Delhi Wakf Board’s (DWB’s) ambitious project for conservation of its heritage buildings. The plan is gathering dust in files for six months.A senior Delhi government official, privy to the matter, said that the finance department had turned down the proposal due technical issues and later, the board lost interest in the project after bureaucratic reshuffle.

As a result, it had to be abandoned. “Following an initial in-principal approval, the finance department rejected the idea noting that the board should involve archaeology department in restoration. Technically, it was not possible because this would have created conflict of interest as the board has been contesting court cases over jurisdiction of several monuments with the department,” the official said. The custodian of the Wakf properties in the national capital — the DWB — planned a systematic conservation of all these notified buildings of historical importance almost a year ago.

As the agency lacks expertise and requisite number of workforce to deal with ancient structures, it had decided to rope in the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the task. According to the board’s preliminary survey, around 400 notified heritage structures, including mosques and tombs dating back to the pre-Mughal period — has been in decay as the DWB and occupants or tenants have failed to carry out their restoration suitably.Most of these structures are located in south Delhi. A DWB official said that the main causes for dilapidation of the significant number of structures in the Walled City are encroachment and unauthorised construction. Another official of the Delhi government associated the proposal, said the conservation of buildings in question by the archeology department was not possible as it has little manpower. Moreover, for maintenance of its own properties, the SAD is soliciting the services of INTACH.“We have attached a copy of the MoU between SAD and INTACH for reference proposing that the project could take off based on the same standard terms and conditions.

However, it was rejected despite being at an advanced stage. Ten buildings had been indentified to be taken up for restoration under first phase,” he said. Among the notified heritage properties under the custodianship of the board are Jama Masjid, Fatehpuri mosque, Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki Dargah complex, the shrine of Chirag-e-dilli, the tomb of Bedil, Nili Masjid in Hauz Khas, and a few other structures in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park.An office-bearer of DWB said when the proposal was taking final shape; officers involved in the project were transferred, so it was put in abeyance.

Restoration of heritage on back burnner The custodian of the Wakf properties in the national capital — the DWB — planned systematic conservation of all these notified buildings of historical importance almost a year ago. Since the board lacked expertise, it had to decide to rope in INTACH.



- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2019/jun/11/preservation-of-wakf-properties-in-delhi-caught-in-red-tape-1988599.html June 12, 2019

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INTACH reaches out to Mangaluru city schools

Through the Heritage Clubs in schools, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has decided to reach out to schools of Mangaluru. Heritage Club programmes are designed to involve students in various activities geared towards heritage awareness and education for learning a craft, museum visits and conservation. Subhas Basu, convener, INTACH, Mangaluru Chapter said, "Work in this regard has already begun. We hope to launch Heritage Clubs in schools at the earliest. We are in the process of identifying schools and teachers who will be trained to run the clubs," he said. INTACH's journey to conserve heritage in Mangaluru began about two years ago from Kodial Guttu West. Since its formal inauguration, several exhibitions and lectures have been held including an exhibition on local built heritage and building material. Some of the events organised included heritage walks to Barkur, a talk on computational understanding of 'Karnataka Dravida' Temple builders during Kalyani Chalukyas, workshop on Kaavi Kale and exhibition of photo stories on Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. INTACH hopes to play an important role during the implementation of Smart City projects and also on reaching out to schools. "As a step further, we would like to document schools that are more than a century old. This will include listing and documentation of schools for which 30-40 schools have been identified. Those involved in the documentation are mostly members of INTACH and architecture and history students," said Basu. Apart from starting heritage clubs in schools, INTACH hopes to involve children in workshops where students are exposed to traditional art and craft. In this direction, a one day hands -on workshop on KaaviKale- an ornamental art form of Konkan region was held in January. INTACH now plans to teach Kaavi Kale to more schoolchildren to help preserve the traditional art form, added Basu. So far, documentation of prominent places like Basadis of Moodbidri and some traditional houses have been undertaken. Now that 'young INTACH's newsletter for children is being brought out in Kannada, Basu says, it is easier to reach out to the students of Karnataka.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/intach-reaches-out-to-city-schools/articleshow/69760814.cms June 13, 2019

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Nizam's Osmania Hospital to be renovated to past glory

The massive structure of the Osmania General Hospital on the banks of river Musi here will be taken up for renovation at a cost of Rs 25 Cr. Telangana health minister Eatala Rajender made this announcement four years after it was actually decided to shift the patients to safer places after the plaster from the ceiling of the 26.5-acre landmark started falling off. The initial move to demolish and construct a new complex was taken immediately after K Chandrasekhar Rao took over as the first Chief Minister of Telangana. However, historians and the kin of the Nizam have raised objections. A committee that visited the structure concluded that the main structure is intact and there was no need to demolish the building. They wanted the government to renovate the structure which is mostly made up of lime. It was designed by architect Vincent Jerome Esch and built at a cost of Rs 20 lakh. The hospital which is akin to any Nizam time structure has massive domes that can be seen from a long distance in close proximity to the High Court has 11 major blocks out of which 8 blocks are classified as unfit. The successive governments have added two more buildings to the complex. While there were demands of converting the hospital as a memorial of the Nizam and build the hospital in the open space of the complex, the government has finally decided to keep the hospital in its original shape and renovate it block by block without shiing too many departments out of the complex. Welcoming the move, Nawab Najaf Ali Khan in a statement has said that Nizam' kin appreciates the announcement of restoration and addition of four new towers which was long awaited. "The Osmania General Hospital building was built by my grandfather Sir Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur Nizam VII in 1919 and the treatment, medicines, food for the patients and their attendees was given free from the Royal treasury during his reign," he recalled. “It was disheartening for the members of the Nizam family to see a structure which was built with a great vision suering from such a sorry state whereas it can sustain for another 200 years as per the report of INTACH,” the statement said adding that the renovation will bring a fresh breath of life to the poor people.

- https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/nizams-osmania-hospital-to-be-renovated-to-past-glory-740008.html June 13, 2019

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Mandu takes 1st leap for being listed as UNESCO heritage site

As a first step for the heritage property Mandu United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage list, Dhar administration submitted a nomination dossier to the state tourism board which was unveiled by state tourism minister Surendra Singh Baghel on Wednesday. The dossier consists of the iconic heritage property’s legacy portrayed in about 2000 pages and 200 images. “We initiated the process and there are some guidelines prescribed by the UNESCO which we followed and completed the dossier in a record time of six months. We have submitted the dossier to the minister today and a team will be presenting the proposal to the state tourism board and if convinced, they will forward it to the Government of India,” Dhar district collector Shrikant Bhanot told TOI. In the next step,MP government would then be forwarding the dossier to the ministry of culture, from where it will be sent to International Conference on Operations Management and Operations Research (ICOMOR), the advisory body of UNESCO. “The entire evaluation, beginning from the state tourism board, will take place in 15 months. They will then generate a report to the ministry of culture stating if they are directly adding it to the list or any other requirement to be fulfilled. As per UNESCO, the year starts from September 30 and it will be declared by 2020-21 slot or by 2021-22 slot,” said an Indore-based consultation company’s planning and designing department head, Garima Rajput. The dossier is an inclusive effort to preserve both tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the town in the form of rich tribal culture, art, skills, festivals, cuisine, environment, fauna, rains and language, she said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/mandu-takes-1st-leap-for-being-listed-as-unesco-heritage-site/articleshow/69766457.cms June 13, 2019

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Heritage map for Thrissur city

INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Thrissur chapter, has prepared a heritage map for the Thrissur central town area. As part of the programme, architecture students and young architects undertook site surveys and photo documentation of old buildings in the area. A heritage map prepared by them at a three-day workshop was presented to Thrissur Mayor Ajitha Vijayan on Friday. Heritage walks and interactive sessions by conservation experts were part of the programme. Thrissur is a well planned fortified town, centred on a large elevated open space, Thekkinkad Maidan (ground) and Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple at its summit. The streets radially branch out from this core, along the natural terrain in organic patterns. The mapping exercise revealed a high concentration of its natural, built and intangible heritage components, functioning together as a single urban spatial entity. The open spaces, community tanks, shrines, traditional institutions, traditional and vernacular housing stocks, marketplaces, ceremonial routes, rituals, festivals, and customs and practices along with the social and spiritual fabric of the town have got an irreplaceable relationship within themselves and the geography. Many national and international conservation experts and urban designers have commended highly on the unique cultural ensemble of the town.

In disrepair

“Many of the heritage components are facing neglect and in conditions of disrepair,” the INTACH survey observed. The heritage map prepared at the workshop will serve as a resource base for any further research or development of the town. INTACH has also proposed the need for constituting a heritage cell for the city, which can work in collaboration with conservation architects, town planners, and other experts for integrated heritage conservation of the city.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/heritage-map-for-thrissur-city/article27943370.ece June 14, 2019

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King Hemu’s ‘haveli’ set to get a facelift

Lying in a shambles, this over 1,000-year-old monument in Rewari is being developed by INTACH as a museum. The famous ‘haveli’ of Hindu emperor Hemchandra Vikramaditya, popularly known as Hemu, at Qutabpur village in Rewari district, has been lying in a dilapidated condition for the past several decades. However, its fate is going to change soon. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a Delhi-based NGO, working for heritage awareness and conservation across India, is working to develop it as a museum of medieval war equipment and memorabilia pertaining to the emperor. The ‘haveli’ that is under renovation nowadays is one of the 10 most important ‘endangered heritage structures’ in India declared by INTACH over 20 years ago. According to historians, it is part of ‘Ravala Dhusran’, a cluster of 15 to 20 ‘havelis’ inhabited by a Dhusar Brahmin clan that migrated from ‘Dhosi hills’ near Narnaul around 850 AD. They were stated to be the ‘purohits’(priests) of Delhi rulers Kumarpala to Prithvi Raj Chauhan. These priests built the ‘haveli’ over 1,000 years ago but it is known as ‘Hemu ki Haveli’ because he lived here for 15 years from 1515 to 1530 and pursued his studies. Actually, Hemu's sister was married in Qutabpur village and she resided in the ‘haveli’ from where Hemu started the business of supplying cannons and saltpeter used as gunpowder to Afghan King Sher Shah Suri with the help of which Suri managed to defeat Mughal emperor Humayun and forced him to move back to Kabul, says the historians. “The ‘haveli’ has a unique architecture and a combination of many building materials was used in its construction. Hemu used to import cannons and saltpeter from Portuguese, who were well entrenched in south India and Goa, for supplying to Sher Shah Suri during 1530s. He introduced colonial architecture to new constructions on the first floor of the ‘haveli’. These are probably the oldest colonial designs in North India that were introduced even before the British arrived in India in 1600. Constructed with Lakhori bricks, the designs were picked from Vatican Basilica and Lady Immaculate Church at Panaji in Goa,” says Sudhir Bhargava, Rewari district convener of INTACH. Bhargava says that this two-and-a-half storeyed fort-like structure of the ‘haveli’ was made of uneven black stones available at Kund mines in Rewari district while lime mortar was used in 30-inch thick outer walls. Roofs have the support of wooden beams, covered with wooden planks and lime mortar. For security reasons, the entire ‘haveli’ had no window. Constructed according to ‘Vastushastra’, the ‘haveli’ has several deceptive basements that have not been explored thinking these to be tunnels, he adds. The ‘haveli’ has been in a shambles for the past several decades till INTACH started renovating it. Its doors and wooden planks of roofs have been stolen. Lime plaster on outer walls has peeled off at most of the places, especially in the lowest 10 feet because of weathering and dampness. The basements constructed in many rooms, which would have been used to store gunpowder, have also been damaged due to water seepage. The roofs of most of the rooms and courtyards have caved in because their wooden planks and beams have rotted. “The ‘haveli’ has 12 rooms and four courtyards on the ground floor. Nine roofs need replacement. Five of them have already been replaced while the remaining roofs will also be renovated, repaired or replaced soon. Different technologies were used in the construction of the ground and first floors and better use of western methods is apparent on the first floor. On the ground floor constructed some 1,000 years ago, no room or courtyard is wider than 7.5 feet and all have been built with uneven black stones. For roofs, wooden planks of half-cut trees have been used as beams. However, the first floor has an extensive use of Lakhori bricks and two halls of 21x21 feet have been constructed with square wooden beams and walls carrying colonial motifs,” says Bhargava. He says the state government has been indifferent towards their demand of renovation of this historical monument. Successive governments had for the past 20 years promised to help in its renovation but nothing was done. INTACH saw the opportunity and came forward to preserve the ‘haveli’. “A delegation of INTACH had taken up the issue with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during his visit to Rewari on May 18, 2017. The Chief Minister had then asked the Rewari Deputy Commissioner to prepare a proposal for the renovation of the ‘haveli’ but an endless wait for government support continues. Another delegation of INTACH members from the Narnaul and Rewari chapters had also met Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma in Delhi for financial grants for the repair and maintenance of monuments in the two districts,” says Bhargava. He adds that the Union minister provided grants for the renovation and conservation of historical monuments in Rewari and Narnaul but the state government yet again ignored this ‘haveli’ while chalking out a plan to utilise the grants. They even met officers of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Delhi and Chandigarh several times and requested them to get these structures declared as protected monuments by the Central government or the state government, but with no positive results. Bhargava says, “The ‘haveli’ will be converted into a museum of replicas of medieval war equipment and memorabilia relating to Hem Chandra Vikramaditya on the pattern of the Battles of Panipat Museum in Panipat that has a very few displays relating to this forgotten warrior king. The entire history of Hem Chandra will be explained through videos and display boards. His 22 battles and the areas won from Punjab to Bengal will be depicted through maps. The museum will help students in further research in the history of Hem Chandra of medieval time that propagates only Mughals and Afghans. Since it’s a costly project, INTACH will collect funds from industries under their CSR scheme”.

- https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/weekly-pullouts/haryana-tribune/king-hemu-s-haveli-set-to-get-a-facelift/788283.html June 14, 2019

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Putting MAP on tourist map in Delhi faces a hurdle

Multiplicity of authorities is proving to be a hurdle for the state archaeology department in its ambitious quest to put Mehrauli Archaeological Park (MAP) on the tourist map in the capital. The Delhi government has planned to convert the park, a historic site spreading over 200 acres containing cluster 70 ancient structures built between 12th century (Chauhan period) and 19th century (British era), into major tourist attraction under the Centre’s ‘Adopt A Heritage’ scheme. The Delhi government officials, privy to the matter, said tussle over ‘transgressing jurisdiction between two departments — archaeology and tourism — had slowed down the project progress jeopardizing the efforts made by stakeholders.“There has been no progress for weeks. The project is virtually at a standstill. Things were moving very fast initially. Several meetings took place with the vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which were attended by all stakeholders, including the representatives of the private company interested in adopting the park. The company also made a presentation of the plan,” a senior Delhi government official said. The park comes under the jurisdiction of DDA and monuments are under the custodianship of state archaeology department (SAD) and Delhi Wakf Board. Prominent structures located at the site are tombs of Ghiyasuddin Balban, Jamali Kamali, Quli Khan and Adham Khan. Other attractions are Rajon Ki Baoli, Jamali Kamali Mosque and Metcalfe’s Folly. According to the officials, attending those meetings, project’s ‘vision document’ is ready but requires formal approval. The selection of the corporate, which will take up the site for creating tourist amenities, as per the scheme, is also yet to be cleared.“Two world heritage sites — Qutb Minar and Red Fort — have already been given to two different companies, where the work is moving at fast pace. Lots of good things are being done and development is visible on the ground. However, MAP project is struck due to bureaucratic clashes,” an official said. As per the plan, the SAD, besides putting together several facilities such as guided tours, water ATMs, illumination, will also build a cafeteria to attract tourists. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the charge of the department, said the project is still at a nascent stage.“The idea was presented before me briefly. I am yet to study the details. It is actually at a very rudimentary stage,” the minister said. Earlier, the SAD had also planned an interpretation centre-cum-museum at the historic site for which in-principle approval was given in the meeting of Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation chaired by lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal. Ajay Kumar, director (projects) at Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said it is a good idea to involve a corporate to promote a heritage site and tourism there however at MAP, a lot of things are to be done. “We filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court for conservation and safety of monuments there. Final demarcation of the park has not been done yet and also the master plan of the site will need to be prepared. Engaging a corporate is good initiative because that can handle several things,” Kumar said.

Balban’s tomb

The arched entrance of the structure, one of the fine examples of Indo-Islamic architecture, is considered the best and first Islamic arch built in the country. The tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, constructed in 1287 was surrounded and bastioned in a battlement wall

Rajon Ki Baoli

Believed to be built during the Lodi period around 1506, this is the largest and most decorative stepwell among three similar facilities existed in the Mehrauli. It has a series of steps forming four stages each in descending size. It is generally mistaken for ‘Rajaon Ki Baali’ (stepwell for kings) but it derives its names from ‘raj’ or ‘mistris’, a term for masons

Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb

Jamali, born in 1483 was known as Shaikh Jamali Kamboh, or Jalal Khan was a powerful noble who served under Sikander Lodi. According to historians, he was also a Sufi-poet. Kamali, an associated of Jamali, was an unknown person. They are buried adjacent to each other in a complex, next to the mosque built in 1528-1529. The mosque is a red sandstone structure with marble embellishments

Tomb of Khan Shahid Khan Shahid was the son of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, who was martyred in a battle against the Mongols near Multan. Constructed during 14th century, this structure is made of Delhi quartzite and supported on 12 columns, covered with a vaulted roof of brick and plaster Bagichi Ki Masjid Bagichi ki Masjid, a 16-century walled structure, has distinctive octagonal domed towers in the four corners. One wall collapsed in 2003 but was repaired later. Dilkusha The 17th tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan was christened as a retreat by Thomas Metcalfe, a British Commissioner of Delhi. It was named Dilkusha or ‘Heart’s Delight’. It is believed that it was built because Metcalfe wanted to keep a watch on last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah who spent summer in his Zafar Mahal palace in Mehrauli.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2019/jun/16/putting-map-on-tourist-map-faces-a-hurdle-1990681.html June 17, 2019

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Dist administration takes measures to safeguard rock art

Udhagamandalam: Temporary measures have been taken by the Nilgiris district administration to safeguard the ancient rock paintings located at Parivarai forest area near Karikaiyur village in Kilkotagiri. The paintings were found vandalized by miscreants over a period of time. Subsequently, Nilgiris collector J Innocent Divya sent a letter the state archaeology department seeking its intervention to protect the pre-historic paintings. Meanwhile, a team comprising two staff from forest and revenue departments has been deputed to guard the location. After the paintings were found vandalised, INTACH-Nilgiris had submitted a petition to the collector in connection with the incident. Based on the representation, a letter was sent to the state archaeology department a month ago, the collector told TOI. “At present, as a temporary measure, two people from the forest and the revenue department have been deputed to guard the location. A board has also been erected cautioning miscreants.” The commissioner of the state archaeology department will inspect the place soon, the collector said. “For that, a no-objection certificate from the forest department is required. The process of obtaining the certificate is under way.” Parivarai forest area, where the ancient rock paintings are located, falls under the Sathyamangalam forest reserve. The rock art, dating back to 10,000 BC, is believed to be of the local tribals depicting their lifestyle. It comprises of about 500 images of humans and animals. The style, using red and white in wet colour technique, is similar to that found in Madhya Pradesh, one of the oldest rock paintings in the country. There are theories that right from the Stone Age, tribals lived in the Nilgiris.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/dist-administration-takes-measures-to-safeguard-rock-art/articleshow/69807353.cms June 17, 2019

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Evidence of Sangam Age settlement unearthed at Nangur, Tamil Nadu

Evidence indicating the existence of human settlement dating back to the Sangam Age was unearthed at Nangur village in Nagapattinam district during an excavation carried out recently by the Department of Marine History and Marine Archaeology, Tamil University, Thanjavur, with the consent of Archaeological Survey of India. The excavation, funded by University Grants Commission, was carried out by the students of Tamil University, University of Madras, Lady Doak College, Madurai, and Madras Christian College, Chennai, and faculty of A.V.C.College, Mayiladuthurai. The team discovered Chola-period roof tiles with folded ends and rounded tips, terracotta figurines, sealings, ear ornaments and dies, glass beads, stone beads and bangle fragments. The terracotta figurines reveal exquisite workmanship, sources said. A structure reflecting a blacksmith’s workshop was also excavated at the settlement found at a depth of three metres. Black and red ware potteries with one of them having a mark of fish were also found at the excavation site. G. Balasubramanian, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil University, and Mark Hauser, Professor, Northwestern University, USA, who was on an exploration of a Danish Settlement at the nearby Tranquebar village in Nagapattinam district, visited the excavation site. Research suggests that many of the Divyadesams and Devara thalangal bear evidences of human settlement from the iron age, according to V. Selvakumar, Associate Professor, Department of Marine History and Marine Archaeology, Tamil University, who led the excavation. Some of these old settlements (Moothoor) may have been the territorial headquarters called Naadu. Further, the current research seeks to find answers to questions relating to the formation of settlements and beginning of agriculture in the lower Cauvery valley. More research and radiocarbon dating are to be undertaken at this site, he added. “Nangur seems to be an important settlement of the Sangam Age as it was mentioned in the Pattinathupalai and Porunaraatruppadai ’. According to local legends, the Sangam Age king, Karikalan, married the daughter of Nangur Vel, chief of Nangur village. Another evidence relating to Nangur was found in an inscription at Takua Pa in Thailand where it was mentioned that a person by name Nangurutaiyan dug a tank and placed it in the custody of Manigramattar, Prof. Selvakumar pointed out.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/evidence-of-sangam-age-settlement-unearthed-at-nangur/article27956469.ece June 17, 2019

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Delhi's unauthorised colonies desperate for water pipelines

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised that piped water will reach all homes in the countryside by 2024, but getting adequate water is becoming difficult for about 150 unauthorised colonies in the national capital region which are completely dependent on water tankers, with no water pipelines serving them. Out of the total 1,725 unauthorised colonies in Delhi, the state government had claimed that it is already providing water to about 1,230 unauthorised colonies, while the rest of them are scheduled to get water pipelines ahead of the assembly elections. According to the Delhi Jal Board, unplanned development is the reason why laying water pipelines have been so difficult in the area. “The work on pipelines have been going on. However, some unauthorised colonies are built in such a haphazard manner that it’s not technically possible to lay water pipelines in such areas,” Dinesh Mohaniya, vice-chairman, Delhi Jal Board said. Even in colonies where there are pipelines, residents claim that as demand increases, the Delhi Jal Board is focusing on supplying water to regular colonies and keeping unauthorised colonies waiting for water. “The supply is often disrupted and fights over water are common. The problem is more in the unauthorised colonies as they remain last on the priority of the Delhi Jal Board,” said Neeraj Kumar, a resident of Sangam Vihar area in South Delhi. And when there are instances of disrupted supply, Kumar claims, the residents have to depend on water tanks of Delhi Jal Board and private vendors. Experts claim that if the city manages to plug its faulty distribution systems and leaking pipes, it can manage to significantly improve water supply efficiency since 45 per cent of water is lost to spillage and theft. “Even if we plug only distribution spillages, we will be able to supply at least 30-35 per cent more water and there wouldn’t be any shortages,” Manu Bhatnagar of conservation body INTACH said. The Prime Minister has already flagged the need to revive India’s water bodies, with severe water woes now threatening agriculture and other businesses.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2019/jun/18/citys-unauthorised-colonies-desperate-for-water-pipelines-1991644.html June 18, 2019

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Is Kolkata India’s City of Stories?

Kolkata is slowly waking up. Men stand on the street corner chewing neem twigs. The tea shop brews cups of hot, milky tea. An old woman threads limes and chillies to ward off the evil eye. And I am on a Murder and Mayhem walk. “That’s the house where one of Kolkata’s most famous serial killers lived,” says Tathagata Neogi, the founder of Heritage Walk Calcutta and my guide through the seamier side of Kolkata’s history (he has been researching this walk for more than a year). It turns out that in the 1860s, Kolkata had its own Jack the Ripper. And it was a she. Troilokya Sundari was a Brahmin widow who had been sold to the red-light district. She scammed men looking for brides, swindled jewellery stores by pretending to be a rani on a shopping expedition and drowned prostitutes in a pond after relieving them of their valuables. The police almost managed to catch her a few times, but she fooled them by pretending to be a helpless, naive woman. As we walk through narrow streets lined with barfi shops and shuttered synagogues, bottle-cap merchants and perfumiers, we meet other ghosts of Kolkata’s less bhadralok past. There’s Rose Brown, the Anglo-Indian woman who was found murdered in the middle of the street in 1858—well dressed but missing her shoes. And the drunk Jewish man nabbed at 3am wandering the streets while carrying a ladder. The police later realised it was the getaway ladder used in the murder of a Jewish woman who had been having an affair while her husband was busy trading opium in China. Her home now houses the very respectable Gujarat Education Society. I was born and brought up in Kolkata. I have left it and returned. The city clings to me as stubbornly as the moss on its buildings after the monsoon. We grew up with Rabindranath Tagore and Subhas Chandra Bose and Satyajit Ray. But there’s another Kolkata that lurks in their shadows. You just have to change your perspective to find it. Sometimes all it takes is a cruise on the Hooghly. From the river, the city looks almost unfamiliar, like a watercolour painting of another city from another time. I can see the spire of old St John’s Church. Giant sheds once built to store tea. The dome of the GPO. A brick-red clock tower from Cooke and Kelvey, once timekeeper for ships coming and going. Floating cranes like Lego dinosaurs. Burning ghats. Promenade ghats. Memorials to indentured labour bound for places like Suriname. A white mansion that was supposedly modelled on a Greek temple that turned into a parikhana for an exiled nawab’s many courtesans. “We look after 32 ghats,” says Goutam Chakraborty of the Kolkata Port Trust. This river cruise is his passion, his effort to make people aware of the uniqueness of the only riverine port in India. As our boat, the Sealand, goes under Howrah Bridge, we get a view of the bridge few ever see. Once the third-longest cantilevered bridge in the world, it soars above us, while matchbox-like cars and ant-like people cross its span. “It was built during wartime. Out of 26,000 tonnes needed, 23,000 were supplied by Tata,” says Chakraborty. “They created a special steel called Tiscrom just for the bridge. Our Prime Minister talks about Make in India. I think this was the first major example of Make in India.” The bridge was inaugurated in 1943, in the middle of the night in a city fearful of Japanese raids. “There was a big Japanese raid on Kidderpore (the dock area), but they never attacked the bridge. It was a glistening beauty in the winter sun,” says Chakraborty. The Hooghly is a unique, dramatic way to look at the history of Kolkata. This is a city that grew up around and because of the river. It’s along the river that the Europeans and their East India Companies fought with each other to establish a foothold in India. The British triumphed and their legacy is all over Kolkata. But upstream there is Chandannagar, once home to the French; Serampore, which belonged to the Danes; the Dutch colony of Chinsurah and the Portuguese outpost of Bandel, which has a church whose original avatar dates back to the Portuguese in 1599. Serampore, once Frederichsnagore, has a college founded in 1818 by the missionary trio of William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward. In Chinsurah, the old Dutch cemetery still stands in a corner of the town with boys playing cricket among the tombstones. The remnants of the Dutch barracks, now painted bright blue, house a madrasa with old cannons still standing guard. The Strand in Chandannagar has the Sacred Heart church, the crumbling Registry building, the beautiful bungalow of French Governor Dupleix, now a museum. A stray dog is curled up on Dupleix’s sofa when I visit, taking shelter from a shower. “The riches of Paris, London, Antwerp and Amsterdam were built on the backs of the poor of Bengal and Bihar,” says Peter de Vries, who, along with his wife, Leonora, has been running Little Europe on the Hooghly tours for three years with CrossIndia. But these tours are not just about colonial nostalgia. When de Vries goes to Hooghly jail near Chinsurah, he always pauses to remember the revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, who was imprisoned there by the British for publishing a political poem in 1923. “And I read that poem by the riverside. It’s quite powerful,” says deVries as he recites a stanza. “I am the rebel eternal.” He would like to do overnight tours, but there’s little upscale accommodation in towns like Chandananagar. Exotic Heritage Group (from Rs25, 000) has found a way around this. It leads eight-night boat trips up the river so passengers can explore by day (Katna with its 108 Shiva temples; Chandannagar and its Strand) and sleep at night on a four-poster bed in a two-level luxury boat that looks like a floating wedding cake. “An Italian architect designed the boat, the interior is designed in Delhi and Italy, the windows are imported from France and the guides are from Kolkata,” says Vice-president Vineet Arora, as he shows me around. With cabins named Maharaja and Viceroy, and an older, mostly foreign clientele, it’s like the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but with a river view. If you want something more exclusive, there’s the Nauka Vilas. “It’s a wooden ship for just two people, your bedroom at the bow, your own sun deck and eight people attending to you,” says Arora. This year, they are also targeting the Indian market with shorter, three-night trips. For the longest time, Kolkata was the also-ran city in the Incredible India story. It does not have the Mughal history of Delhi or the Bollywood appeal of Mumbai. Tourists only came here when they were on their way to Darjeeling or the northeast. Manjit Singh Hoonjan, who runs Calcutta Photo Tours, says people thought of the city as “dead, decaying and dying.” He remembers a time when Indians did not understand the concept of walking tours. They would ask, “Kya kya included hai?” When they understood, they would say ‘What? We will walk and we will pay you?!’” Foreigners would come to do their stint at Mother Teresa’s homes after doing the Golden Triangle and a week of beach R&R in Goa. “That was the black-hole image of the city,” he recalls. But these days, walking tours are unearthing whole new histories of the city. Neogi leads excursions through the once bustling Chinatown, explores the city’s World War II history and Little Europe. Some of it can be nostalgia tourism, he admits, but “nostalgia is the stepping stone to reviving heritage.” There’s not enough reviving of heritage happening, but it’s not all lost either. Iftekhar Ahsan started Calcutta Walks in 2007. Now he has beautifully restored a 90-year-old house in north Kolkata, so that people can also get the chance to stay at a property with an old Calcutta feel. He says as part of the walks, he would go to a house that once belonged to the courtesan of a rich babu. “We would go into the courtyard and be transported into another world,” he remembers. “And then it was destroyed. And I thought we had to restore and save at least one building.” Calcutta Bungalow (doubles from Rs5,000) evokes that world, but not in a grand zamindari palatial style. It’s far more intimate, with the feel of a lived-in home. There are old typewriters in every room, the colours are warm and inviting, knick-knacks from all over the city are on the walls and each room pays homage to a neighbourhood in a city that is all about neighbourhoods. “The good thing about using old stuff is if things spill, it does not matter,” laughs Ahsan. “It adds character.” But it’s not easy to make an old house work for a 21st-century traveller. Just restoring it was an education, he says. “Regular mistris could not do the plaster. Then we found one from Murshidabad. He said we first needed gur, supari, methi and bel. And then came the cement. There are at least 10 food items in these walls.” This kind of fastidious care lavished on heritage is new to the city, which, it would often seem, preferred its heritage to just crumble artistically. But now, in Serampore, the West Bengal government and the Danish government, along with INTACH, are involved in a project that is aimed at reviving and restoring what is left of the Danish presence. Architect Manish Chakravarty spearheaded the restoration of the 232-year-old Denmark Tavern, a yellow building that features clean, unfussy lines and dominates a corner overlooking the river. Once upon a time, this structure used to be a boarding house for travellers. Now it belongs to the police, but it was pretty much an abandoned building, recalls Chakravarty. “The thought process was that this was a gone case and would die its natural death,” he explains. “It was like medically reviving a person who is on a ventilator.” The team did an underground archaeological study of the entire foundation of the building, reconstructed the walls to the same thickness, looked up old 19th-century sketches that they found in a Copenhagen library and tried to repair only what was essential to its survival or to its new incarnation as a boutique hotel. For example, Chakravarty created an atrium to draw in light. “It’s restoration versus reconstruction and you have to incorporate that balance—have the old and the new co-exist,” he says. A few minutes from the Denmark Tavern stands St Olav’s Church, freshly painted, also restored by Chakravarty. Its wooden beams were rotten, its roof had partially fallen in, ridden with termites. Such huge beams are hard to find anymore. So he replaced them with encased steel beams and replastered the parts of the wall that were dead from within. Its great bell does not toll, but now the church looks as good as new, or as good as old. Chakravarty tells me that a bus stand used to be in that area, with tea stalls and roadside shacks and rickshaw stands. All that has been moved. “This is not a celebrated tourist town like Tranquebar or somewhere in Rajasthan,” says Chakravarty. “This is an urban space with problems of crowded bus stands, politics, governance, lack of understanding. It all took a long time and multiple meetings, but now we actually have a plan to organise this space. The government is in the game. So Serampore could be a model.” It could be, for example, for Chandannagar and its French heritage. But there’s a difference, says Basabi Pal, head of the French department at Chandannagar College. The French are interested, but do not have the funds. A survey has found 99 buildings that could qualify as heritage. Seven have been declared heritage as of now. Pal says the architecture is quite unique—with French elements on the fac¸ade, but Bengali- style courtyards inside. “Some of these could easily become heritage hotels; we just need the imagination,” she says. Having grown up in these parts, she remembers stories from her granduncles about French Chandannagar. “If drunks created a nuisance on the street, the gendarmes would chain and handcuff them to the side of the road until they sobered up,” she laughs. And there was a French bakery near the bazaar, which had old, traditional ovens to make country loaves, that was always buzzing. Chandannanagar College was a magnificent old building with graceful columns and a skylight. “But its cast-iron railings and bannisters were stolen and sold as scrap,” Pal laments. She threatened to go on hunger strike if the government even considered bringing it down. In 2010, it was declared a heritage building. Sadly, every year that passes another ‘heritage’ property bites the dust, a liability sold off by its owners. But occasionally, there is reinvention. Harsh Neotia decided to turn Swabhumi, a defunct crafts bazaar into a boutique hotel with a central courtyard and magnolia trees that bring zamindari Kolkata to mind. “Everybody said raze it to the ground. That would have been a no-brainer,” says Neotia. “But I’ve always been fascinated by the Renaissance lifestyle of zamindars and I wanted to try to make a creative expression.” Then he quips, “Luckily, I don’t have shareholders.” The 33-room Raajkutir (doubles from Rs9,000) not only evokes a colonial feel, it comes with its own ‘history’ of a Raja and his three sons, one a revolutionary, one beholden to the British, one interested in fine arts. The history is made up, but the hospitality and attention to detail are not. The rooms, with their four-poster beds, are named after all the characters of the family drama—Mamababu, Mejobouma (middle daughter-in-law), Pishima (aunt). The menu features largely forgotten once-legendary city delights like Vegetarian Cutlet from Elliott Hotel, Decker Lane chicken stew and the Bhetki Meuniere with lemon-butter-parsley sauce that Satyajit Ray loved at the long-gone Skyroom restaurant. “This is not about the business traveller,” says Neotia. “This is for someone who wants a local experience. It’s a fair bit of risk, but if it leads to a string of old properties being restored, then that’s great.” These walks, boat tours and restorations are trying to fit together what’s left of Kolkata’s heritage into a jigsaw puzzle that tells a different history of greater Kolkata, one that does not have to moulder into picturesque ruin. As our boat on the Hooghly turns back towards the dock in Kolkata, the sun starts to set. The boat pushes against the tide. We can see both bridges across the Hooghly silhouetted against the sky. Boys whoop and swim in the muddy water. Barges from Bangladesh stand laden with fly ash. We sail past the parikhana again, once home to Wajid Ali Shah and his courtesans, gleaming white in the gathering dusk. “Did you know that Wajid Ali Shah’s tiger once jumped into the river and swam across?” says Chakravarty. Where did he go, I wonder. No one knows, but there’s poignancy in the king confined to Calcutta and the tiger that escapes its cage. I can almost imagine the ghost of that tiger still swimming across the treacherous waters and disappearing into the trees of the botanical garden, some still standing from those times. “We nurse the ghosts of Calcutta,” says Chakravarty. As the evening shadows gather, I can almost believe him.

- https://www.cntraveller.in/story/is-kolkata-indias-city-of-stories/ June 19, 2019

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Bring in corporates to protect Yamuna floodplains, NGT panel recommends

To maintain the Yamuna floodplains, a pollution monitoring committee has floated the idea of bringing in business houses to conserve and protect it from encroachment. In exchange, these companies would get the right to advertise on the land. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been asked to explore the idea by the National Green Tribunal (NGT)-appointed Yamuna pollution monitoring committee. “The DDA under its aegis could consider allotting (not leasing) identified segments to established industrial houses, companies or foundations, who can be permitted to display their logos and signage in lieu of maintenance for 2 - 3 years at a time,” stated minutes of the meeting of the committee, held earlier this month. The panel, in a bid to stop encroachment and polluting activities along the floodplains, has also asked the DDA, which is the custodian of the river, to consider handing over day-to-day management, which will help increase accountability and achieve better degree of public support in conserving the area. At present, multiple government agencies are responsible for various functions including sanitation, parking and keeping a check on unauthorised construction, among others duties. DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor, said, “We are exploring giving some projects to established universities and experts working in this sector. This does not include any private players. We have divided the whole floodplain area into nine to ten projects and tendering for two projects, which have got all sanctions will start soon. The process took time for getting clearances and financial sanctions.” The monitoring committee has divided the restoration of floodplains area into ten projects. At present working on one of the projects — portion of the floodplains between Wazirabad and Old Railway Bridge — has found polluting activities going on unabated in the area by residential colonies as well as by vendors. The NGT panel came down heavily on the management committees of the Tibetan Colony and Majnu Ka Tila, residential settlements along the portion of the floodplains, which have been involved in “haphazard growth, which has been expanding”. “The area of the floodplains has shops, eateries, vendors and vehicles spread all over. Extensive human activity would make it impossible to keep the river possibly clean. To make the plan sustainable, the DDA must consider establishing a dedicated set-up, which can manage prevention of pollution and encroachment,” it further stated. The committee has already roped in Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a Delhi-based organisation working on heritage awareness and conservation, to submit wetland development plans along the stretch for restoration. Besides, the DDA has been tasked with landscaping and developing nature-trails in the area on lines of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, which could be utilised for public participation. According to experts, handing over maintenance could be a good step provided strict monitoring is done regularly.Manoj Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said, “Handing over protection of segments of floodplains could be a good step in preventing encroachments and further damage to the river. However, the land-owning agency must exercise a lot of caution and monitoring of the activities of the third-party.”

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/bring-in-corporates-to-protect-yamuna-floodplains-ngt-panel-recommends/story-0b1rsvR4CEtKCZmOhpP7gN.html June 19, 2019

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INTACH releases documentation on Prachi Valley

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on Tuesday released a volume titled “The Prachi Valley”, written by Anil Dhir, which is a detailed documentation of the monuments of this rich heritage site of Odisha. The book was released by Justice Dipak Misra, former Chief Justice of India, and Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, State convener, INTACH. The book is a comprehensive compendium which lists nearly 200 monuments which include temples, mutts, ghats, ashrams and other edifices. The INTACH Bhubaneswar Chapter had flagged off the project of a complete documentation of the Prachi Valley heritage in November 2017 with an intention of completing it in six months. However the sheer magnitude and extent of the vestiges discovered stretched the project to eighteen months. The documentation and listing was done simultaneously along with the geographical mapping of the old river. For the first time, the entire Prachi river, on both the banks, was surveyed from its ancient origin at Dakamba near Barang till its estuary at Keutajanga near Astarang. Even though the present-day Prachi flows from an outlet of the Kuakhai near Bhingarpur, the original river had its path from Dakamba near the present Naraj Barrage. While surveying the old stretch, many features which include sand beds, dunes, lakes and water bodies were found. The present day Kanjia Lake of Nandankanan too is an ox-bow lake of the ancient Prachi. Excavations in the area too have yielded Jain and Buddhist images. Amiya Bhusan Tripathy said the Prachi Valley is a hidden gem of Odishan art, architecture and culture which should be got to limelight. There are seven protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India besides sixteen temples which are under the State Archaeological Department. Baikuntha Panigrahi, convener of the Bhubaneswar INTACH Chapter said that the INTACH was aware of the utter neglect of the existing monuments of the Prachi Valley. No proper documentation had been done of the edifices and remnants that still remained. A complete listing of the monuments of the entire Prachi Valley would be undertaken. Justice Dipak Misra lauded the efforts of INTACH in producing the report. He said the Prachi Valley witnessed the blending of different ideologies, rites and practices of Jainism, Buddhism, Tantricism, Saivism, Saktism and Vaishnavism that evolved through the ages. The archaeological remains, as found in the present day, establish that the people who inhabited the place were intelligent, eclectic, synthetic and tolerant and far ahead of their time. According to Anil Dhir, who spent nearly 18 months in the area, the Prachi Valley can be said to be the richest repository of geographical, historical, architectural, religious and monumental wealth. The valley, with its archaeological remains, can be regarded as a veritable museum of Odisha’s glorious past- it has chronological relics, remnants and edifices of Odishan history and culture through the last two thousand years. Today, the Prachi is a near-dead river. It has lost most of its original features; but for four months during the monsoons, it still discharges flood waters into the Bay of Bengal.

A few spots in its lower reaches have water throughout the year, but on most of its journey it runs dry. The area covered by the present river is about 2000 sqkm and the river touches 940 revenue villages in the three districts of Khordha, Puri and Cuttack. The river can be revived with adequate dredging and removing the obstacles and encroachments. It can be made navigable and can become a very important religious and tourist place. Dhir said the Prachi Valley holds an immense potential and possibility for students and researchers. It is a rich minefield of archaeological remains, which require proper exploration and excavation. The valley has languished in ignominy for long, the time has come when proper studies in the missing links are done and its rightful claim and place among world civilisations is restored. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on Tuesday released a volume titled “The Prachi Valley”, written by Anil Dhir, which is a detailed documentation of the monuments of this rich heritage site of Odisha. The book was released by Justice Dipak Misra, former Chief Justice of India, and Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, State convener, INTACH. The book is a comprehensive compendium which lists nearly 200 monuments which include temples, mutts, ghats, ashrams and other edifices. The INTACH Bhubaneswar Chapter had flagged off the project of a complete documentation of the Prachi Valley heritage in November 2017 with an intention of completing it in six months. However the sheer magnitude and extent of the vestiges discovered stretched the project to eighteen months. The documentation and listing was done simultaneously along with the geographical mapping of the old river.

For the first time, the entire Prachi river, on both the banks, was surveyed from its ancient origin at Dakamba near Barang till its estuary at Keutajanga near Astarang. Even though the present-day Prachi flows from an outlet of the Kuakhai near Bhingarpur, the original river had its path from Dakamba near the present Naraj Barrage. While surveying the old stretch, many features which include sand beds, dunes, lakes and water bodies were found. The present day Kanjia Lake of Nandankanan too is an ox-bow lake of the ancient Prachi. Excavations in the area too have yielded Jain and Buddhist images. Amiya Bhusan Tripathy said the Prachi Valley is a hidden gem of Odishan art, architecture and culture which should be got to limelight. There are seven protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India besides sixteen temples which are under the State Archaeological Department. Baikuntha Panigrahi, convener of the Bhubaneswar INTACH Chapter said that the INTACH was aware of the utter neglect of the existing monuments of the Prachi Valley. No proper documentation had been done of the edifices and remnants that still remained. A complete listing of the monuments of the entire Prachi Valley would be undertaken. Justice Dipak Misra lauded the efforts of INTACH in producing the report. He said the Prachi Valley witnessed the blending of different ideologies, rites and practices of Jainism, Buddhism, Tantricism, Saivism, Saktism and Vaishnavism that evolved through the ages. The archaeological remains, as found in the present day, establish that the people who inhabited the place were intelligent, eclectic, synthetic and tolerant and far ahead of their time. According to Anil Dhir, who spent nearly 18 months in the area, the Prachi Valley can be said to be the richest repository of geographical, historical, architectural, religious and monumental wealth. The valley, with its archaeological remains, can be regarded as a veritable museum of Odisha’s glorious past- it has chronological relics, remnants and edifices of Odishan history and culture through the last two thousand years. Today, the Prachi is a near-dead river. It has lost most of its original features; but for four months during the monsoons, it still discharges flood waters into the Bay of Bengal. A few spots in its lower reaches have water throughout the year, but on most of its journey it runs dry. The area covered by the present river is about 2000 sqkm and the river touches 940 revenue villages in the three districts of Khordha, Puri and Cuttack. The river can be revived with adequate dredging and removing the obstacles and encroachments. It can be made navigable and can become a very important religious and tourist place. Dhir said the Prachi Valley holds an immense potential and possibility for students and researchers. It is a rich minefield of archaeological remains, which require proper exploration and excavation. The valley has languished in ignominy for long, the time has come when proper studies in the missing links are done and its rightful claim and place among world civilisations is restored.

- https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/state-editions/intach-releases-documentation-on-prachi-valley.html June 20, 2019

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Save Esplanade mansion: IIT-Bombay's report to be challenged in HC today

As part of a fight to save the 150-year-old Esplanade Mansion, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) will file a PIL in the High Court today to challenge the validity of IIT-Bombay's report, which says the heritage structure should be demolished. Rajan Jayakar, convenor of INTACH, said the views of a noted urban planner and civil engineer, who has found the report to be inaccurate, would be included in the PIL. Pointing out that there was only one intention behind filing the PIL – to save the building and highlight the reasons why the structure should not be demolished, Jayakar said, "We have challenged the structural stability report and, have in fact, appealed to the court to not consider it at all. Everyone is talking about the fact that the building has a cast iron structure but nobody is going into the history of how it was nominated for the World Heritage tag. We have pointed out many documents, which talk about the decision taken by the UNESCO committee. We will also include the views of a structural engineer in the PIL." He further said that after studying IIT Bombay's reports, the engineer listed out several lacunae in it and recommended a thorough investigation. "Based on the cost factor, the IIT report has arrived at the conclusion that the building should be demolished. It hasn't even considered restoration.

A report on structural stability requires mapping and identifying the soft points. They have stated in the report that they had limited access to the structure as tenants were still occupying the galas. They have only inspected the passages and not the complete building," added Jayakar. As part of the argument to prevent the building's demolition, Jayakar said they would highlight two important factors. "The tenants have evacuated the premises, and if all the illegal constructions in the building are identified and demolished, the load on the structure will automatically reduce.

Our aim is to restrain MHADA from demolishing the building and appointing proper officials to see how it can be restored. There is no precedence to this kind of a case since there is no other building like this one in India," he said. In the last hearing, MHADA had accepted IIT-Bombay's recommendations and asked the court for permission to demolish the building. Apart from heritage conservationists, who have been advocating efforts to save the heritage building, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee also recommended steps to preserve the iconic structure instead.

- https://www.mid-day.com/articles/iit-bombays-report-to-be-challenged-in-high-court-on-june-21/21194161 June 20, 2019

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Burzahom archaeological site neglected: Soz

Former Union Minister, Saifuddin Soz has urged Union Minister of Culture, Prahlad Singh Patel, to establish a museum at Burzahom archaeological site in Kashmir and “transfer back the archaeological antiques to the site.” In a press statement issued here today, Soz said he has written to the Minister of Culture, Government of India, that Burzahom can be an attractive place for interested visitors, particularly for the youth of J&K, who should know more about their archaeological wealth and their history.

He said he has requested the minister to establish a museum at the site in Kashmir and transfer back the archaeological antiques to it. “I also requested the minister to station the Superintending Archaeologist for Srinagar Circle at Srinagar as this office was shifted to Jammu in 90s, temporarily,” he said. Soz said he has also written a letter to Vijay Kumar, Advisor to J&K Governor “requesting him to ask the Sports Department of the state to disband sports activities in the notified area of Burzahom and provide an alternative site to serve as playground for the youth of the area.” Soz said during his recent visit to the Burzahom archaeological site, along with Mohammad Shafi Pandit, former Chief Secretary J&K state and Mohammad Saleem Beg, currently convener of INTACH, J&K chapter, they found that this site of great historical significance presented a neglected look. “On this occasion, I learnt that the archaeological antiques had been shifted by ASI to Delhi, way back in 90s, as a temporary measure for writing a comprehensive report on the site,” he said.

- https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/kashmir/burzahom-archaeological-site-neglected-soz/ June 20, 2019

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Yoga- Its Past and Present

Yoga, originating from the soils of ancient India, comprises of a set of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that can heal and soothe the mind and body of a person. The Hindu philosophical tradition has six orthodox schools which include Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta. Yoga, being one of the Hindu orthodox schools, is today widely practiced around the world. In India, it was Swami Vivekananda who brought Yoga to the forefront in the late 19th and early 20th century. He introduced his own adaptations of yoga, excluding the asanas. Following his footsteps, some of the Indian yoga gurus took the practice to other parts of the globe and the west got to be acquainted with it. The western world, however, adopted a different form of modern yoga that has an increasing number of asanas. In Indian practice, yoga is more about meditation and spirituality rather than being a physical exercise. Modern yoga is regarded as a rejuvenator in today’s humdrum life as it soothes, refreshes, calms down the mind and soul which is much needed to tackle with the fast-paced city life. Not only this, yoga purifies the inner body and the mind which once again is necessary for facing the pollution around.

The modern working schedules demand office-goers to either stick to their chairs for 8 hours a day or go out in the polluted traffic congested roads for the entire day. The yoga gurus, hence, has classified the yoga asanas and practices basing on its advantages so that the one can choose the yoga practices basing on his/her particular body and mental needs. Studies on yoga reveal that modern yoga is a boon to modern day people. it works as a complementary intervention to cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart diseases which are some of the fatal diseases. it is the innumerable health benefits of yoga that made UNESCO list it as an intangible cultural heritage on December 1, 2016.

- https://www.sentinelassam.com/news/yoga-its-past-and-present/ June 21, 2019

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INTACH organises workshop to preserve Kashmiri handicrafts

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) of Jammu and Kashmir organised a workshop in Srinagar. The aim was to revive and preserve the importance of Kashmiri art and to boost the overall artisan community of Srinagar. The workshop was conducted because the handicraft products play a vital role to generate employment in the state.

With the help of handicraft products the cultural and traditional activities are still alive in the valley but presently the artisan community is facing hardships due to the lack of good infrastructure along with basic facilities to nourish their art. The workshop included administrators, artisans, policy makers and representatives of design schools and civil society associated with the promotion and restoration of art and craft who shared their thoughts on the topic.

- https://www.business-standard.com/multimedia/video-gallery/general/intach-organises-workshop-to-preserve-kashmiri-handicrafts-86229.htm June 25, 2019

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Two conservationists from Palakkad win INTACH Awards

Two conservationists from Palakkad – a rice farmer who revived the heirloom Navara rice and an autorickshaw driver who plants trees daily – have won this year’s prestigious Anirudh Bhargava-INTACH Environmental Award. Rice genome conservator Narayanan Unny from Chittur, Palakkad, won the first place in an all-India competition for restoring the financial sustainability of rice farming, and particularly of Navara rice, which is used in Ayurveda because of it medicinal properties. The awards were given away at a function held at Government College, Chittur, on Monday.

Addressing the function, Mr. Unny said he wound up a lucrative computer distribution business to concentrate on isolating a pure strain of the purple rice, growing it on his 12-acre farm without chemicals and less water, applying for a Geographical Indicator Certification, and developing cultivation and marketing model for other farmers. “There are numerous problems, and we are trying to overcome them one by one,” he told an audience of students and environmental enthusiasts.

The second prize was jointly shared by auto-driver Shyam Kumar from Thenkurissi, Palakkad, and Sarang Yadwadkar from Pune, who has been campaigning against encroachments in rivers. Mr. Shyam Kumar said he had planted 23,000 trees on roadsides over the years. He carries saplings in his vehicle and plants them for six months, then spends the warm months watering them or persuading people to care for them.

He has 50 bird baths in his house that attract 39 types of birds and has helped several schools plant trees and set up bird baths. K.J. Sohan, convenor of the Kerala chapter of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), gave away the awards. INTACH Palakkad chapter convenor Arun Narayanan said the group worked to promote conservation of culture, history and buildings. P. Pramod, principal scientist at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology, Coimbatore, delivered the keynote address.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/two-conservationists-from-palakkad-win-intach-awards/article28129054.ece June 25, 2019

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Two conservationists from Palakkad win INTACH Awards

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) of Jammu and Kashmir organised a workshop in Srinagar. The aim was to revive and preserve the importance of Kashmiri art and to boost the overall artisan community of Srinagar. The workshop was conducted because the handicraft products play a vital role to generate employment in the state.

With the help of handicraft products the cultural and traditional activities are still alive in the valley but presently the artisan community is facing hardships due to the lack of good infrastructure along with basic facilities to nourish their art. The workshop included administrators, artisans, policy makers and representatives of design schools and civil society associated with the promotion and restoration of art and craft who shared their thoughts on the topic.

- https://www.business-standard.com/multimedia/video-gallery/general/intach-organises-workshop-to-preserve-kashmiri-handicrafts-86229.htm June 25, 2019

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Archaeology department moves to take over pre-historic rock art site in the Nilgiris

The pre-historic rock art site in the Parivarai forest area near Karikaiyur village in the Nilgiris will soon come under the custody of the state archaeology department. The site is 7km inside the forest near Karikaiyur, a Kurumba tribal village. “We are in consultation with the Nilgiris administration and the forest department for NOC to take over the site that houses ancient rock paintings,” T Udhayachandran, commissioner, state archaeology department told TOI. “The initiative is under way”. The rock art, dating back to 10,000 BC, is believed to have been done by local tribals depicting their lifestyle. However, these were found vandalized by miscreants over a period of time.

Based on a representation by INTACH-Nilgiris chapter, J Innocent Divya, Nilgiris collector, wrote to the archaeological department to inspect the site. “We wanted the archaeological department to take over the site at Parivarai for its heritage value. After we wrote to the department, it has initiated work to preserve the art,” Innocent Divya told TOI.

“We are awaiting the NOC from the forest department to proceed.” In the meantime, temporary measures were taken by the collector to safeguard the rock paintings by banning entry to the site. Two personnel from the forest and revenue departments had been deputed to monitor illegal entry of visitors. Though the Parivarai forest is in the Nilgiris district, the forest range falls under the Sathyamangalam reserve forest. Hence an NOC is required from the DFO of the Sathyamangalam forest division to take over the site.

The rock painting comprises some 500 images of humans and animals. The style, using red and white in wet colour technique, is similar to that found in Madhya Pradesh, one of the oldest rock paintings in the country. There are theories that right from the Stone Age, tribals lived in the Nilgiris. Geetha Srinivasan, Convener, INTACH-Nilgiris chapter, said, “The rock paintings are of archaeological importance. It is a great resource for research scholars. Entry to the site is to be restricted.” She added, “An enlarged photograph of the rock paintings could be displayed at the government museum in Ooty for tourists and the local public to have a glimpse."

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/archaeology-department-moves-to-take-over-pre-historic-rock-art-site-in-the-nilgiris/articleshow/69919634.cms, June 25, 2019

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Heritage lovers fume as KCR’s Assembly complex puts 150-yr-old palace on demolition list

Heritage lovers in Hyderabad are up in arms against the Telangana government’s plans to demolish the 150-year Errum Manzil palace in the heart of the city for the construction of a new legislative assembly building complex, for which the foundation was laid on June 27.

Last week, the Telangana cabinet headed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao decided to construct a massive state legislature complex modelled on the lines of Parliament House in New Delhi on the sprawling 17-acre site at an elevated location near Khairatabad at a cost of Rs 100 crore.

Like in Parliament, there will be a central hall, which will have legislative assembly and legislative council on either side. There will be assembly secretariat and library on the premises which will be beautified with massive lawns and fountains,” the chief minister told reporters after the cabinet meeting. While the plan appears to be grandiose, what triggered uproar among the heritage lovers was the government’s decision to demolish the existing Errum Manzil palace constructed by Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk, one of the nobles of the erstwhile Nizams, the rulers of Hyderabad state, in 1870. “Fakhr-ul-Mulk was a minister with the Sixth Nizam Mahabub Ali Khan and had constructed beautiful palaces in Hyderabad.

The present buildings of Chest Hospital and the Nizam’s College were constructed by him. His descendants gave them away to the then government after 1948, when the Hyderabad state was merged with Indian Union,” heritage activist and secretary of Indian National Trust for Architecture and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Anuradha Reddy told Hindustan Times. The Errum Manzil palace, comprising 150 spacious rooms, was built in the Indo-European Baroque style of architecture with full of stucco and ornamental works. “It was constructed on a hillock abutting the highway and was surrounded by full of greenery,” Reddy said. It even had nine-hole golf course, polo ground, stable for horses and a dairy farm.

The palace was used for royal banquets and other grand events. After it was handed over to the government, it was used as an office of Public Works Department and presently, it houses offices of the Engineers-in-chief and the Chief Engineers of the Roads and Buildings and Irrigation and Command Area Development Departments. “Such buildings are part of our heritage and culture which need to be preserved with all care. How can they be demolished for the fancy of the chief minister to have modern assembly complex?" she asked. Meanwhile, legal heirs of Fakhr-ul-Mulk wrote a letter to KCR requesting that the Errum Manzil palace be preserved as a heritage monument. “Nawab Fakhrul Mulk Bahadur, an eminent noble of Hyderabad, who built the palace was awarded a status of Umara-e-Uzzamin, in the hierarchy of the Nizam of erstwhile Hyderabad state,” Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, the Secretary of the Nawab Fakhrul Mulk Legal Heirs Association, said in the letter. He pointed out that Errum Manzil was a historical monument and was visited by top British dignitaries including the Viceroy of India.

“This beautiful structure is very much part of Hyderabad’s history, culture and heritage,” Khan said. The heirs also pointed out that the palace had served as the Public Works Department office for decades and had become a known landmark in the city.

-https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/heritage-lovers-fume-as-kcr-s-assembly-complex-puts-150-yr-old-palace-on-demolition-list/story-XJTivwVnQiHO8zBJjErBjK.html, June 25, 2019

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Death of a Delhi Lake: How Metro Construction and Urban Planning Killed Centuries-old Water Body

In Delhi, the discourse on water is measured by a certain scale of nostalgia. The city’s plush area Hauz Khas was named after an ancient water reservoir by the same name. Centuries later the name remains, but the water bodies associated with it have disappeared; so has water. Latha, 39, a resident of Khirki area in south Delhi, recalled the story of the now dry Satpula lake in a completely different memory. “My mother-in-law would tell us about a big lake behind the house where we now live. She told us about the farmers in the area who used it for irrigation.

She showed us how children jumped into the lake for a bath,” she said. “But where is the lake now? There is a sewer behind the house,” she said. The Satpula is a manmade lake reportedly constructed around the 1300s. History has recorded its use as a dam at one point. But the lake’s original catchment area today has been reduced to include a children’s park, public gymnasium, benches and ample shade for romance.

Not far from where Latha lives, Natthu, a 35-year-old gardener, started residing in the 40-acre lake compound with his family seven months ago. Natthu said he has never seen the lake filled with water. “I water the garden every day with the help of the installed borewell pump and a network of pipes. The borewell is what feeds both my family and the grass. I have only heard stories of water here,” he said.

Amid severe water crisis in the capital, the Satpula lake appears as a patch of land attempting to spring into a garden. The only thing missing is the lake itself. Since the city first played host to civilisation in the 6th century, it has witnessed the formation of 1011 water bodies to attend to consumption needs. Of the total, only 611 remain today.

Delhi has 274 dried up lakes, of which 190 have been lost forever. For 54-year-old Rajesh and his friends, all residents of Khirki, mention of Satpula lake brings back old memories. “The lake had a depth of more than 20 metres 30 years ago. It was spread across a huge area. We used to swim across its length,” Rajesh says, fondly remembering his childhood. The 54-year-old explained that the lake had a systemic way of collecting rain water from nearby areas through seven channels. “Earlier, the gradient of the lake kept it full because water would enter from everywhere. Now water flows through numerous plants and pumping stations,” he said. In addition to lower ground water level in the city, the lake dried up sooner than expected after it became a dumping ground for excavated soil. Rajesh says, “When Delhi Metro began in this area, all excavated material was dumped here. This blocked the channels that brought in water and changed the orientation of the area.” “It is a park now. And here we play cards under the trees,” he added.

In a 2014 report, the Delhi Park and Gardens Society stated that at least 200 lakes and ponds have been encroached and lost. They have been turned into cremation grounds, temples, government schools and even a bus terminal of the Delhi Transport Authority. On June 23, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) formally got the green signal to commence the revival initiative for the Satpula lake. Termed a challenging project, the lake is expected to be filled with more than 1,000 kilolitres of treated water from an adjacent running drain. However, the DJB estimates that only 15 per cent of this will percolate into the ground.

Neglect Caused by Urban Planning
With the population rising and the country moving towards its urban epicentres, the discourses of water management and urban water bodies have emerged as a necessary project of modern innovation. In retrospect, the story of Satpula lake is a possible foreword on the many ignored aspects of water in urban planning. News18 spoke to Kanchi Kohli, senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Research to understand the space lakes have in modern urban ecosystems. Our current state is a result of gross misuse and neglect. Lakes in urban development have been completely ignored. The ecology of lakes has been sidelined as part of urban design,” she said.

According to Kohli, an assessment of the water worries of today must put to test rapid commercialization and increase in population density – two factors that have disintegrated water bodies from modern living. “Widespread use of borewell extraction or tapped water for personal consumption has disconnected residents from natural public spaces like lakes and ponds which have a variety of common uses.

Hence, the push for reviving these spaces,” she said. “We need to move out of the worldview of the current residents and see these spaces from the perspective of those who have lived in-effect of these spaces,” added Kohli. While 32 per cent of Indian households boast of having safe tap water supply, 18 per cent or 6,25,000 households of Delhi suffer without it. Amid this figure and depleting ground water levels, 21 Indian cities, including Delhi, are feared will run out of water by 2020 without sufficient water bodies.

Manu Bhatnagar, principal director of the Natural Heritage division of Indian National Trust for Arts and Culture (INTACH) told News18 that adopting the practice of viewing lakes as valuable common spaces within our urban ecosystem must include an understanding of new catchment characteristics. “First, roads and boundary walls built over the catchment area prevent water from entering these spaces.

Second, water on the surface percolates fasters into the ground because of a low ground water level. Hence, we get to see the dry surface of a water body. Third, urban water bodies have been robbed off of their perennial nature by being cut off from the river,” he said. For instance, Sanjay lake and Bhalswa lake got disconnected from Yamuna due to the creation of intervening embankments. On the other hand, lakes like Hauz Khas went dry because of decreased groundwater levels. Irrespective of how a lake is revived or rejuvenated in the urban ecosystems, experts have argued, the reason and the method for doing so must be well-defined to benefit urban planning.
Revive, Rejuvenate, Rejoice

Hauz-i-Shamsi, popularly known as Shamsi lake, was once spread over 1,000 acres in Delhi’s Mehrauli area. It is a still-water body put to no use. Built in 1230, the lake has seen a reduction in its catchment area following construction activity. Besides, the lake is also filled with sewage. Ali, 60, a resident of Mehrauli, recalled one incident where the lake water got severely contaminated. “A few months ago, the drain running adjacent to the lake witnessed flooding and all the sewer water entered the lake. The water level of the lake had risen. After using influence, a local leader was successful in convincing the authorities to clean it.

Manual scavengers were sent in the drain to clean them,” he said. Earlier, only fresh water was used to fill up till the top of the embankment, but now the expansion of real estate and population have destroyed everything, added Ali. The lake assumes special importance in that area given its location next to the Jahaz Mahal which hosts the annual ‘Phool Walon ki Sair’ festival. The course of Shamsi lake, experts have said, may meet the same fate as the Satpula lake if attention to good urban planning is not given. Ankit Srivastava, advisor to the DJB, noted that prior to rejuvenation, it is important to identify the three different types of contaminated bodies: dry lakes, sewage contaminated lakes (severe) and wet lakes filled with rain water (mild). Once identified, each lake has its own definite steps of rejuvenation or revitalisation which can be put to different uses apart from drinking. Srivastava said, "Historically, Delhi has always had a multitude of water bodies that have been put to difference uses as per the rainfall pattern in the area. Lakes in Delhi have acted as a source of harvested rain water, a buffer against rain water flooding and a medium for groundwater recharging. These bodies have naturally been designed to be self-sustainable”. According the DJB advisor, having more water bodies in the city is a way to reduce the burden of providing drinking water from the government. “Lakes and ponds can provide clean water for use to everyone by raising groundwater table. Quality of water in water bodies is an important aspect.

The government can share its responsibility with these social spaces,” he added. The DJB has planned to construct six mega lakes in Delhi in Rohini, Timarpur, Nilothi, Rajghat, Dwarka and Najafghar. In addition, the DJB also plans to revive existing 250 water bodies. Across all its projects, the water body’s primary aim is to improve the quality of water, and at the same, improve access and availability. Revival of lakes like the Shamsi or the Satpula must also mean reviving areas like Mehrauli or Khirki, Srivastava said.

- https://www.news18.com/news/india/death-of-a-delhi-lake-how-metro-construction-urban-planning-encroachment-killed-centuries-old-water-body-2202551.html, June 25, 2019

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Old meets new at the Yamuna ghats in Delhi

The boatman has an Instagram account (@ganesh_ghat_no_24), and all his 400 posts reveal a little-known side of Yamuna ghats in Delhi – the ghats as a location for many a fashion photoshoot. On the red sandstone steps of Ghat number 24 leading to the Yamuna on a hot summer afternoon, Ganesh Pandit (28) is scrolling through his phone. He occasionally shifts his gaze to his two red boats, anchored a few meters away. There are posts featuring young couples sitting cosily, holding hands, on his red-coloured boat; svelte models striking a pose while holding the oars; models in colourful sarees standing on the edge of the boat under a beautiful evening sky.

“These ghats have become a popular location for pre-wedding and professional photoshoots in the last 2-3 years,” says Ganesh, a tall, stocky man. Located along the busy Ring Road, Ghat Number 24 at Yamuna Bazar area, near Nigambodh Ghat, is one of the 32 contiguous historic ghats in Delhi, which have sunk into oblivion over the years. The noise from vehicles begins to fade as one enters a lane and walk towards the ghats. A 10-foot wall hides them from the rest of the city. Behind the wall is a world struggling to keep pace with changing times, while keeping the old traditions alive. Most ghats have single-storeyed houses inhabited mainly by families of priests who have been living here for generations; old Lord Shiva temples, chabutras (elevated platforms), akharas. Constructed in the early 20th century at about the same time as the Old Iron Bridge, most of the ghats—an important part of the city’s heritage - have lost their original character.

While performing traditional Hindu rituals related to birth and death continues to be the main source of income for some of the families living on the ghats, many are looking for alternatives. Ganesh’s late father, for example, was an astrologer. Ganesh, whose family has lived on the ghat for decades, has kept the tradition alive. But he has now hired a young priest to manage the pujas, as he now focuses on taking visitors on a boat ride —for leisure and photoshoots. Ever since he opened his Instagram account — it has 700 followers — two years back, business has picked up.

"My followers have been increasing every day. People now take appointment before coming. They like my red boat, as it comes out really well in photographs. Now some boatmen on other ghats have also got their boats painted red,” he says. He is particularly busy during the winter (November to March) when a lot of models and professional photographers come to the ghat. “It is the time when the area gets a lot of migratory birds,” says Ganesh. “That is another popular location for photoshoots. Earlier, most people used to come here to offer prayers to get rid of evil spirits. Now, many come for photoshoot as the tall grass provides a nice background.” With the river has turned into a drain and a dumping ground for waste over the years, the once vibrant ghats, which face utter neglect and civic apathy today, are not as picture perfect as Pandit’s Instagram account would suggest. Only two percent of the river’s length passes through Delhi, yet the city contributes around 76% of its pollution load.

At least 23 drains empty into the river. Such is the water toxicity that the NGT had raised doubts over the quality of vegetables grown along the floodplains. “The river is kept out of focus, as it is dirty,” said Sourabh Gandhi (31), a freelance photographer. “Not many people know about this place in Delhi. Last year, I conducted a workshop for amateur photographers at the ghats which was attended by 280 people.” Ankur Anand, who works with an MNCs, got his pre-wedding shoot done at the ghats. He says, “We didn’t want to go to a regular monument to get the photo shoot done.

This place, though dirty, served as a good background with the river, temples etc. With basic improvement in civic infrastructure, the ghats can turn into a great place.” Sunil Kumar Sharma (55) is one of the few priests left on the ghats who performs the evening aarti. Every evening, he sets up the microphone, spreads sheets on the floor for people to sit and pull out musical instruments from a small room. And what follows is an hour-long aarti clubbed with bhajans (hymns). Recalling the old times, Sharma says most ghats had community affiliations. For instance, if Ghat Number 21 was frequented by the Baniya community, Ghat Number 19 had Marwari visitors and the Ghat number 20 mostly attracted Yadavs. On the neighbouring Ghat Number, 23, octogenarian Ram Nath has been performing aartis every day in the morning and evening for over five decades. He used to run an akhara here. Before he starts the preparations for the aarti, he washes his hands, feet and face with the river water. “I know the river has become extremely dirty, as several drains flow into it,” rues Nath. “But no matter how dirty the river might be, it is Goddess Yamuna for me,” he says as he places flowers, roli (vermilion), an oil lamp on a steel plate for the aarti. In a bid to keep tradition alive, the Yamuna Ghat Panda Association has been conducting maha aarti every last Sunday of the month. The ghats then transform into a mystical place, attracting many people. “Our young generation doesn’t want to continue with the traditional occupation. We are trying to keep it alive through these events,” said Suresh Sharma, chief of the association.

Till the mid-80s, the old-timers say, people from across the city and neighbouring areas in Haryana used to come here regularly to offer prayers and also to spend some leisurely time, participating in swimming competitions, boat rides, etc. “We would stand in the river for hours to do Puja. Though we continue to offer prayers, we enter the river just once a year during Shrawni Upkarm (which marks the end of monsoon),” says Kailash Nath Shastri, a priest at the nearby Sri Dharm Sangh Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, a school for priests. While some ghats, like 21, 23, 24, have retained a bit of their old-world charm, others have changed beyond recognition with two-storeyed houses constructed cheek by jowl. The ghats have also witnessed a demographic shift, with a large number of migrants from UP and Bihar making these ghats their home. Lalita Devi (40) moved here from Bihar 15 years ago where the accommodation is cheap. While her husband works as a daily wage labourer, she makes garlands. A majority of women here make garlands to earn their livelihood. One can smell the fragrance of rose and marigold in the narrow congested lanes on Ghat no. 28. “There are so many temples nearby. We get a contract from the sellers. They pay us Rs 10-20 for 25 garlands,” adds Lalita. The crumbling ghats may soon be restored to their old glory.

Following the National Green Tribunal’s order, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is working on rejuvenating the riverfront. It has roped in INTACH’s natural heritage division to do a detailed study on the eco-system and the historic significance of the area between the Old Iron Bridge and the new Signature Bridge (a 7km stretch) and suggest ways to restore the ghats and its lost connection with the city by making them accessible to the public. “These ghats were active riverfronts of the city. With funding from the trading community of Chandni Chowk, these Mughal-era ghats were re-constructed during 1902. During our survey, we found hexagonal projections in the river which are typical of Mughal-era architecture. We are now trying to prepare a plan to make them more accessible to public," said Divay Gupta, principal director and head of architectural heritage, INTACH Delhi chapter. Back at Ghat Number 24, it is late evening and Ganesh Pandit, dressed in a green T-shirt and a pair of jeans, is about to let loose one of his red boats.

“Delhi resembles Vanarasi on these ghats in the evening during the aarti, ” he says as he rows the boat towards the sandbar in the middle of the dirty river.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/old-meets-new-at-the-yamuna-ghats-in-delhi/story-7hE1eSgNcSRffL6A8SskPJ.html, June 25, 2019

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Will century-old Osmania General Hospital building in Hyderabad survive this monsoon?

Delayed but not depleted, the monsoon is setting in with full force. With heavy rains expected to lash the city for more than a month, the patients and doctors at the century-old building that houses Osmania General Hospital are once again bracing themselves for water seepage and falling chunks of the ceiling. While the government has finally decided to allocate funds for the renovation works, doctors are not sure if the building can survive another monsoon.

They are of the opinion that the only way to see out the season is by shifting the patients out of the otherwise overcrowded old structure and accommodating them in a new and safer building. Dr PS Vijyender, a junior doctor at Osmania General Hospital, laments, “The second floor was already shut down a few years back as the chunks of the ceiling started falling off due to lack of maintenance. The situation became worse during monsoon as the water logging on the roof and seepage through the ceiling lead to peeling of the plaster from the ceiling. The patients have been accommodated on the first and ground floors that has lead to overcrowding to a point where many them have to sleep in the corridors."

"Now the first-floor ceiling too developed huge cracks. In this situation, accommodating the patients will be a herculean task. I wonder if the hospital will survive this monsoon before the much-awaited restoration works are started,” he said. Expressing similar fears, Anuradha Reddy, convenor of INTACH, Hyderabad, said, “Every building -- new or old -- requires pre-monsoon precautions and maintenance. The major issue with Osmania General Hospital is the roof. The debris and garbage have been collecting on the roof for years, which needs to be cleared immediately. Water seepage is not the biggest fear as the building is made of granite, but it will lead to the plaster falling off. While the hospital requires a routine maintenance system, to survive the monsoon what we need is an emergency maintenance drive."

However, Dr. Pandu Naik, the head of the Joint Action Committee that demanded a new building, seemed hopeful and said, “A lump sum budget allocation has been started to restore and conserve the building, along with the construction of four new towers. We definitely appreciate the move by the government, and we are hopeful that this will help us to cater better to the patients.”

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2019/jun/26/will-century-old-osmania-general-hospital-building-in-hyderabad-survive-this-monsoon-1995508.html, June 26, 2019

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3-day workshop on art and craft concludes at DPS Budgam

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) organised a three-day workshop on art and craft at Delhi Public School, Budgam. A non-government organization, INTACH, has proposed for design significance in art and craft and work for promotion of cultural heritage and tradition, said a statement issued by the body, adding the workshop introduced students to major crafts of Srinagar city and their importance in establishing unique cultural identity.

Through live demonstrations by master artisans, different lectures, PowerPoint presentations, the students gained first-hand experience of both theoretical and practical aspects of the crafts, the statement said, adding by end of the workshop the student gained a holistic understanding as to why crafts are essential to the survival of the city’s culture and tradition. “Through different formal/informal discussions, engagements, they understood the historic evolution of the craft industry as well as the reasons of its gradual decline. Design process through bio-mimicry on different design and influence of local flora and fauna on different design motifs exposed the students to the creative process involved in these crafts," the statement said. It said experts encouraged local entrepreneurship mind-set in the students as regards to the craft industry and introduced creative industry as a parallel career option.

- https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/kashmir/3-day-workshop-on-art-and-craft-concludes-at-dps-budgam/, June 26, 2019

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Tenders for conservation of 7 gates to be floated this week

As part of the heritage conservation of the Smart City project, seven historical gates of the city will be conserved by the Aurangabad Smart City Development Corporation Ltd. (ASCDCL). According to corporation CEO Nipun Vinayak, as the city is rich in heritage the focus on such monuments is one of the key areas of Aurangabad Smart City Project. Following discussions with experts and stakeholders, the ASCDCL has now decided to take up the conservation of historic gates in the first phase of heritage project and tender for the same will be floated this week. The municipal corporation over the last few years has received criticism for the poor state of historic gates.

The gates to be conserved in the project are Barapulla Gate at an estimated cost of Rs 42.99 lakh, Katkat Gate at Rs 39.66 lakh, Jafar Gate at Rs 12.74, Naubat Gate at Rs 15.93, Mehmood Gate at 59.80 lakh, Khijri Gate at R 13.35 lakh and Kala Darwaza at Rs 20.66 lakh. The proposals are being prepared for ASCDCL by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach).

According to Intach Aurangabad co-convener and architect Ajay Kulkarni, the gates taken up in the conservation project are around 4 centuries old. "Conservation work at these monuments was done 10 to 15 years ago. However, we must keep doing the maintenance. Due to the pollution, a layer of pollutant has deposited over the structures. Some of these Gates have traffic movement around them or from inside them which leads to development of cracks. Seepages and dumping of debris around the gates also threaten the foundation of the gates," Kulkarni said. The conservation project would therefore include cleaning, waterproofing, structural maintenance and masonry work, he said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/tenders-for-conservation-of-7-gates-to-be-floated-this-week/articleshow/69956311.cms, June 27, 2019

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Buddhist relic unearthed

A Buddhist relic has been unearthed by a group of indologists on the right bank of the Gundlakamma river at Anamanaluru village, near Korisapadu, in Prakasam district. A group of historians led by Dr. E. Sivanagireddy, Buddhist Archaeologist and Chief Executive Officer, the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati (CCVA), examined the 3rd century A.D. relic during their visit to the sleepy village as part of ‘Preserve Heritage for Posterity’, an awareness campaign launched by the CCVA to bring to limelight artefact which remained in neglect in different parts of the State.

The local limestone pillar measuring 1’-3”x 0’-9’’x8’.0” and 2’.0” feet below the ground level, is carved with half lotus medallions at the centre and top portions on all the four sides in the Amaravati school of Art of the Ikshwaku times. It was an accidental find while uprooting eucalyptus trees in the agricultural field and erected it inside the Veerabhadra temple towards the north of the village.

Dr. Reddy said that there might be a Buddhist monastery of which this pillar might be part of a Shilamandapa where Buddhist teachers offer regular discourses on the Dhamma of the Buddha. The antique Buddhist pillar was found worn out due to weathering and active agricultural operations. ‘Ikshwaku style’ Dr. Sivanagi Reddy said that similar pillars carved in the Ikshwaku style are earlier noticed inside the Siva temple at Manikeswaram another village located on the Gundlakamma river bank, 3 km away from the present spot. Dr. Reddy said that he would like to take up a village–wise survey of Buddhist sites and monuments in Prakasam district and publish a book for the benefit of the research scholars.

In view of the archaeological and historical significance of the Buddhist pillar, he appealed to the officials of the State Archaeology and Museums Department, to take necessary action to protect it for posterity in the present site or shift to a nearby museum. Deccan Archaeological and Cultural Research Institute (DACRI) Director K. Jitendra Babu and its members M. Virendar, Dr. D. Surya Kumar and Dr. S. Jaikrishna also took part in the exploration.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/buddhist-relic-unearthed/article28160055.ece, June 27, 2019

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For another walk in the park

INTACH Bengaluru’s Parichay will host a walk on June 29 at Cubbon Park. During this walk, many water stories associated with this botanical garden, created in 1870, will be narrated. “Water histories of this park will be shared by Bengaluru’s very own water man S Vishwanath aka Zenrainman,” says Meera Iyer, Convernor, INTACH Bengaluru Chapter. An overall history of Cubbon Park will be shared during the walk. Vishwanath, founder of Rainwater Club and the man behind the movement ‘A Million Wells for Bengaluru’ has been working with the Department of Horticulture to revive old wells and water bodies. “We will discuss the unique characteristics of Bengaluru, a city sitting on the divide of the Arkavathy and Dakshina Pinakini Rivers. The ridge line places Cubbon Park in the Dakshina Pinakini basin.

We will also talk about the challenges the city has had to cope with, thanks to this river basin approach,” says Vishwanath. The Parichay walk will also present the traditional tank and well culture Bengaluru was once known for, how old wells were cleaned and revived by well-diggers (called Mannu Vaddars), and the connection between Cubbon Park and Karaga, a traditional festival of the Thigala community, adds Vishwanath. Speaking about water bodies in the 198-acre lung space, Mahantesh Murgod, deputy director (Cubbon Park), Horticulture Department says, “We have three ponds, each one doused in history.

While the one-acre wide Karagada Kunte is one of the sacred water bodies where Bengaluru’s Karaga procession stops every year for a community prayer, the Lotus Pond in front of Bal Bhavan and the Chamarajendra Pond next to the Maharaja’s statue, both about one-fourth of acre wide, are rich with water,” says Murgod.

The seven wells in Cubbon Park have been cleaned and provide the 8,000 plants and trees with ample water. Presently, members of the Mannu Vaddar community are de-silting other water bodies here,” he adds. Parichay walkers will also pass through the 65 recharge wells that have been dug up to ensure the aquifers are filled. “The Mannu Vaddars (also called Bhovi Community) are traditional well diggers who clean and deepen old open wells.

They have a traditional knowledge of the wells of Bengaluru and are helping build recharge wells to augment the aquifers,” explains Vishwanath.

Mannu Vaddars larger role
Well-digger Munikrishna from Sarjapur says it is important to recharge groundwater so that the mannu (soil) stays hydrated and cool. “Urbanisation has seen concrete, tar and drains everywhere, making it difficult to recharge water. Humans should have basic respect towards nature. Once we collect and use water, we have to give it back to the ground,” says Munikrishna. Vishwanath states, ‘A Million Wells for Bengaluru’ is primarily a movement to ensure livelihood opportunities for well diggers. “It will also give groundwater security to the city, mitigate urban flooding and make sure rainwater recharge is increased from the current 10% to at least 50% of total rain.” According to the Mannu Vaddar community, if a million wells are dug up in Bengaluru, and the water is ploughed back into the ground through wells, the city will no longer face water shortage.

"It is time citizens looked within the city for available solutions and store rainwater instead of ignoring it as ‘run-offs,” feels Vishwanath, who believes the Cubbon Park Project and the ‘Million Wells for Bengaluru’ will showcase the ability for water sustainability.

- https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/for-another-walk-in-the-park/article28181316.ece, June 28, 2019

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