Strengthening governance for the restoration of privately-owned heritage buildings in Gwalior
RESULTS OF IUC-INDIA CITY-TO-CITY COOPERATION
Located in the heart of Belgium next to Brussels, the city of Leuven has a legacy and ongoing practices to make use of heritage buildings in a way that their heritage structure and design are protected. Within the IUC programme, Leuven entered into partnership with Gwalior, a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located 343 kilometers south of Delhi, to carry out cooperation in the area of heritage conservation. Gwalior has a good number of heritage buildings. However, these magnificent structures are vulnerable to the pressure of modern infrastructure and absence of strong policy guidelines to protect privately-owned heritage buildings.
Their cooperation focuses on the strengthening of governance for heritage conservation and revival and started with a technical team from Leuven visiting Gwalior to assess and understand the basic heritage infrastructure in the city in November 2018. In February 2019, a larger group of experts led by the honorable mayor of Leuven visited Gwalior and further explored and analysed other specific components of their cooperation. In addition, a Belgian expert has regularly visited Gwalior under a broader partnership between India and Belgium on various areas of cooperation including heritage conservation.
In February 2021, Gwalior and Leuven jointly organised a two-day workshop to further their cooperation. During the workshop, the representatives from KU Leuven University presented a variety of successful case examples as well as the principles of conservation. A detailed discussion on the challenges, solutions and activities in Gwalior also took place, making use of the experience of Leuven and other European cities. Following this activity, the possibility of a pilot project in a specific location in Gwalior will be explored by the two cities.
The cooperation between Gwalior and Leuven has many expected outcomes. These include the preparation of a robust framework within Gwalior Municipal Corporation and Gwalior Smart City Development Corporation Ltd for the conservation of privately-owned heritage buildings and a policy model in which heritage becomes an integral part in urban development that can be applied to similar situations all over in India.