SURAT: Seven years ago Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) had identified 2,417 structures in the walled city and 574 in Rander as monuments with heritage value. However, nothing has been done to preserve them till date. Unfortunately, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) does not have a single heritage structure of Surat in its list of heritage sites. There is no government grant of any sort and the onus of protecting these old structures is on their private owners.
Eighty-seven-year-old Ramesh Nagarsheth lives in his ancestral house in Nanavat that was built in the 16th century. He says he is the 12th generation to live in this house. However, neither SMC, nor state government cares for this antique property that is made of Burmese Teak wood and cho (Sagol). It has 50-foot tall panels and doors that are full of sculptures and carvings.
“I have emotional attachment with the house and so have resisted many temptations. But, the issue is who will decide the valuation of such an antique property,“ said Nagarsheth. “However, if government comes up with some scheme or grant for preserving and maintaining such properties, I would like to re-develop into its original majesty.“ he added.
Bhamini Mahida, curator of Surat Museum and Science Center, who conducted the survey some years ago said, “It was decided to set up a heritage cell then and appoint a conservation architect. This expert was to survey all properties and with government collaboration some grants were to be given to these property owners.“
The time is ripe for Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) to make a policy to provide financial aid to private heritage property owners in the city. A large number of heritage property owners are willing to redevelop the ancestral properties keeping their old characteristics intact. SMC should also build a make-believe wall around ancient Surat, which extended up to 26 sq km for the benefit of tourists.
Credits ET Realty