Heritage council for restoring Shekhawati havelis soon
JAIPUR: The Local Self Government (LSG) department will soon constitute a Heritage Development Council to preserve and restore ancient havelis in the Shekhawati region.
This council will work for conservation, regulation and maintenance of heritage structures and private havelis in the region. A senior official informed a draft of rules has been prepared and forwarded to Urban Development and Housing (UDH) minister Rajpal Singh for final approval.
Explaining the functioning of the council, an official said, “The council will identify and prepare list and databank of heritage assets in the region. It will further make recommendations to the state government for declaration of heritage assets as protected and regulated area in respect of protected heritage asset under these rules. The council will also acquire rights in heritage assets by way of purchase, lease, gift or bequest for the purpose of conservation.”
The council will also enter into agreements with private persons for the conservation of heritage assets vested in the state government.
It was further informed, a fund known as Shekhwati Region Heritage Development Fund will be established by the council. The state government will pay the heritage funds by way of grants. The council will also prepare an annual report giving full account of its activities during the previous financial year and its plans for the forthcoming year.
Shekhawati is located in northern Rajasthan, comprising districts like Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Churu and Nagaur. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Marwari merchants constructed these grand havelis in the region. These havelis are indeed fascinating and are major tourist attractions even today.
After the formulation of rules, the state government by notification in the official gazette, will constitute a council. “The divisional commissioner will be the president of the committee. There is also a possibility that the state government could appoint a president. Other than this, district collector and municipal officers will be part of the council.”
The official further said, this aspect came into focus after the state cabinet approved Rajasthan Heritage Conservation Bill, 2014, in February. The Bill has provided for a state heritage authority under the chairmanship of principal secretary, UDH, to identify and preserve heritage properties. It will have powers to declare a property preserved, frame by-laws for heritage conservation and prepare a databank of heritage properties. The council would consist of three ministers including the UDH minister. “The decision to create a conservation council for Shekhawati was taken as the area has made a mark on the world map. The Jhunjhunu region which has many heritage havelis is also close to the national capital and it could attract tourism,” said an official.