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Amritsar Scheming on to a Productive Road- Map with HRIDAY

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HRIDAY

National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) was launched on January 21, 2015 with the aim of bringing together urban planning, economic growth and heritage conservation in an inclusive manner to preserve the heritage character of each Heritage City. Elets News Network (ENN) brings an overview of the scheme’s projects and execution status at Amritsar.

India is bestowed with rich and diverse natural, historic and cultural resources. However, it is yet to explore the full potential of such resources to its full advantages. Past efforts of conserving historic and cultural resources in Indian cities and towns have often been carried out in isolation from the needs and aspirations of the local communities as well as the main urban development issues, such as local economy, urban planning, livelihoods, service delivery, and infrastructure provision in the areas.

The development of heritage cities is not about development and conservation of few monuments, but development of the entire city, its planning, its basic services, the quality of life to its communities, its economy and livelihoods, cleanliness, and security in sum, the reinvigoration of the soul of that city and the explicit manifestation of the its unique character.

The main purpose of the City HRIDAY Plan is to create a sustainable Civic Infrastructure Development Plan for areas around tangible heritage assets (identified or approved by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and State Governments) by identifying gaps through infrastructure need and assessment for physical infrastructure.

Since 2006, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India has initiated various capacity building initiatives with a focus on development of Indian Heritage cities. Conservation of urban heritage has been often carried out without linkages with the city urban planning processes/tools and local economy and service delivery aspects.

National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) was launched on January 21, 2015 with the aim of bringing together urban planning, economic growth and heritage conservation in an inclusive manner to preserve the heritage character of each Heritage City. With duration of 27 months and a total outlay of Rs. 500 crore, the Scheme is set to be implemented in the following 12 identified Cities viz. Ajmer, Amaravati, Amritsar, Badami, Dwaraka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni and Warangal.

The main purpose of the City HRIDAY Plan is to create a sustainable Civic Infrastructure Development Plan for areas around tangible heritage assets (identified or approved by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and State Governments) by identifying gaps through infrastructure need and assessment for physical infrastructure (water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, approach roads, footpaths, street lights, tourist conveniences, electricity wiring, landscaping etc.) as per locally applicable standards/norms/bye-laws.

Scheme Detailed Road Map

The scheme basically aims to preserve and revitalise soul of the heritage city to reflect the city’s unique character by encouraging aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative and secured environment. The Scheme supports development of core heritage infrastructure projects which shall include revitalisation of urban infrastructure for areas around heritage assets identified and approved by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and State Governments. These initiatives shall include development of water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, approach roads, footpaths, street lights, tourist conveniences, electricity wiring, landscaping and such citizen services.

Being a central sector scheme, this scheme is fully funded. National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is designated as National Project Management Unit for HRIDAY Scheme and will function as a secretariat for National Mission Directorate (NMD). Of the many cities targeted onto implementing HRIDAY in their spaces, Amritsar was one of them. A city as divine as its scribed history, along with its historic walls and impressive gateways, Amritsar gained importance under the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, one of the most resplendent figures in Sikh history. The city lies on the Grand Trunk road, Asia’s one of the oldest and longest major roads connecting Eastern & Western parts of Indian sub-continent, built by King Sher Shah Suri in year 1539.

The project on the upgradation of 21 roads in Zone 1 (i.e. all roads within the walled city leading to Sri Harimandir Sahib) thus, finds precedence in the scheme as an opportunity for systematic interventions to protect the centre

Amritsar’s Plan of Action

The City HRIDAY Plan strategically addresses the expansion of the city in the context of these rings of growth. Proposals for each heritage zone are bound together by an overall city mobility plan. The roads radiating out from the centre and areas between these intersections thus, become critical focus areas for development and management.

Proposals for each zone are targeted on development of the radiating roads and these filler spaces. The project on the upgradation of 21 roads in Zone 1 (i.e. all roads within the walled city leading to Sri Harimandir Sahib) thus, finds precedence in the scheme as an opportunity for systematic interventions to protect the centre from environmental pressures generated by ill planned development which create unmanageable sound pollution and traffic.

Recommendations have been made to enable improved rideability, better services and efficient traffic management. Each zone becomes a component in this initiative to improve buffer areas comprising green belts with slow moving traffic and decongested spaces with activities focused on improvement of quality of life for the inhabitants by deviating from commercial activities.

Proposals in Zone 2 and 3 aim directly at development of intermediate spaces, while zone 4 focuses on upgradation of the high speed corridor. Through better planning and design interventions, these zones thus are an important initiative in the urban planning scheme to develop a ‘cohesive historic cultural environment’ which contributes to improvement of quality of life for the citizens of Amritsar. The initiatives thus:

  1. Expand the buffer zone
  2. De-stresses the core and
  3. Rejuvenates nodes/ creates opportunities for ‘off shore’ development

With the completed projects and the upcoming projects in the pipeline, it is expected that the heritage and holy city of Amritsar will undergo a positive transformation towards a smart, resilient and liveable city.

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