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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

‘Town planning laws ineffective'

Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: Additional Chief Secretary K.Jayakumar has stressed the need for tougher town planning laws to ensure sustainable development without compromising on heritage values.

Inaugurating the World Heritage Day celebrations organised by the Thiruvananthapuram centre of the Indian Institute of Architects here on Monday evening, he said the town planning laws in Kerala were weak and open to interpretation, making them ineffective. That, he said, was the reason for haphazard development, chaotic traffic conditions, and acute shortage of parking space in cities.

Mr.Jayakumar called for a campaign to ensure that town planning laws did not promote unsustainable development. He called on architects to make conservation part of their professional activity. “Architects must essentially be conservationists.”

He reminded them that the dichotomy between development and conservation of heritage was borne out of a perverted idea of modernity divorced from the past.

A link with the past

Heritage, he said, represented a link with the past. It had a historical, emotional and cultural significance. Any development not rooted in the past, was unsustainable. He also reminded civil society of its role in conserving tangible and intangible heritage.

“Very often, public interest is cited as the excuse for destroying monuments. Ultimately, heritage is defined as anything that blocks development. It is a manufactured definition, a subtle perversion that helps to make development fashionable and conservation unfashionable. It represents a myopic, greed- driven approach”.

Mr.Jayakumar said economic values need not conflict with cultural values. “Conservation and tourism can impart economic value to heritage.” He called on architects to rediscover indigenous conservation systems more appropriate to the local context.

Pointing to the mindless destruction of trees in the name of development, he said the capital city had lost the fervour to save its green cover. “Many of the remaining trees in the city are being choked by concrete footpaths and roads. Victims of development, they will come down over the next 10 years. After all, it is easier to destroy than conserve.”

Earlier, Gouri Parvathi Bayi, member of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore, inaugurated an exhibition on the historic precincts of Thiruvananthapuram.

The exhibition comprised a documented architectural history of the city prepared by students of the Department of Architecture, College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. Mr.Viswanathan hoisted a ceremonial flag to formally inaugurate the Heritage Walk to be launched by IIA in the Fort area of the city.

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