Unable to come up with a policy on its own to preserve and promote State’s rich cultural heritage, the Punjab Government has now sought help from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to formulate its Cultural Heritage Policy.
The international body, Unesco, has been entrusted with the task of devising Punjab’s Cultural Heritage Policy to showcase the rich legacy and cultural heritage of Punjab across the globe especially amongst the Punjabi Diaspora. The policy was likely to be finalised by May 31, 2014.
Unesco would give technical assistance to the State to develop its Cultural Heritage Policy and strategic frameworks, as well as the implementation strategy for protection and conservation of its cultural resources.
The decision was taken when a high-level delegation of Delhi-based Unesco monitoring panel team led by its co-chairpersons Dr Richard Engelhardt and Sudha Pillai called on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday.
Known for its rich and vibrant culture, Punjab Government had decided to develop its cultural policy a year ago, but nothing was done, except of levying one per cent cultural cess on the cost of roads constructed out of state’s resources and buildings with a cost of more than Rs 50 crore.
The cess was levied under The Punjab Ancient, Historical Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Cultural Heritage Maintenance Board Bill, 2013, passed by the State Assembly in its last Budget Session.
The Bill provides to set up a dedicated fund for conservation and preservation of State’s heritage buildings as well as its operation and maintenance along with the upkeep and funding of the heritage memorials to be constructed in the future.
During the meet, Engelhardt informed Badal that the underlying objective of the cultural policy was to protect and promote natural and cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, moveable and immoveable while enhancing international mutual understanding among nations and people.
He hoped that the joint initiative of the State Government and Unesco would serve as a pilot project to cover the varied fields of craft forms, built heritage, archives, museums and intangible cultural heritage.
Engelhardt appreciated Badal for taking a decision to impose one per cent cess on the upcoming infrastructure development projects for raising funds for the cultural heritage monuments and memorials thereby making Punjab as the country’s first state for taking this unique initiative.
Badal assured the delegation of all help and support for the formulation of this much-needed policy.
“After setting up heritage projects like Khalsa Heritage Complex, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur War Memorial, among others, the State Government has now planned to set up Jang-e-Azadi memorial to highlight Punjabis’ enormous contribution in national freedom struggle. Besides, several other monuments are also coming up in different parts of the state to showcase the rich cultural legacy of the state,” he said.
Badal further said that such initiatives for promotion of art and culture would act as a link between the Punjab’s glorious heritage past and future generations.
Principal Secretary Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museum SS Channy said that Cultural Affairs Department had already constituted a panel of cultural experts and an eminent art personalities who were well versed with different aspects of state’s glorious cultural heritage to approve and vet the document from time to time.
Unesco co-chairperson Sudha Pillai told the Chief Minister that the State Government should pose a comprehensive State’s action plan for the conservation and promotion of Punjab Heritage to the 14th Finance Commission for seeking funds for the implementation of its Cultural Heritage Policy in the right earnest.
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