Heritage conservation does not mean preserving the past but looking at the future, said the envoy of a country that has championed the cause.
“Heritage conservation is not just preservation of the past but also thinking of the future. It is a link between tradition and innovation,” Vincenzo De Luca, the Italian ambassador to India, told a Kolkata audience on Monday.
“Heritage conservation is not trying to protect one building. It is regeneration of history, of experience and reinterpretation of tradition looking at the future. Italy is at the forefront of this vision,” said the envoy.
He was speaking at a session at The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The subject was “Heritage preservation and conservation in Kolkata. Can Italy play a role?”
Italy has the maximum number of Unesco heritage sites in the world. The country is known for conservation of historical monuments.
De Luca gave the example of Bologna, “where in 1973, for the first time in the world, we talked about regeneration of historical centres… where we not just protect one building or monument but want all the historical centres to be regenerated,” he said.
Conservation should not be limited to government agencies but include private players, members of the civil society and researchers, he said.
Tathagata Chatterji, professor of urban management and governance at XIM University in Bhubaneswar, said mainstream heritage conservation in an urban context should have an integrated approach.
“It should produce tangible benefits, like jobs and scope for economic growth, for stakeholders. It should improve the quality of life,” he said.
Soumen Mitra, commissioner of Kolkata Police, was a member of the panel at the Bengal Chamber on Monday.
In a pictorial presentation, he took the audience through some old buildings — some of them well over 100 years old — in Kolkata and its surrounding areas. The buildings belong to and have been restored by the police department.
The Government House in Barrackpore and the Police Training School in Kolkata are some of the buildings.
Belur Math will be open on October 20, Laxmi Puja, and November 4, Kali Puja.