Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development inaugurated a two day conference on Heritage Cities here today. The conference is being jointly organised by Ministry of Urban Development and Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN).
In his inaugural address, Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said that India is blessed with tangible and intangible heritage assets and it consists of 32 World Heritage Sites, both cultural and natural, recognized by UNESCO. He said that India ranks 5th in the world and 2nd in Asia, in terms of number of World Heritage Sites. The Minister highlighted the importance of heritage sites for tourism. He said that India attracts millions of tourist every year and in 2013, India received 69 lakh foreign tourists and 114 crore domestic tourist visits, generating revenue of Rs. 2 lakh crore. i.e. 6.6 % of GDP. Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu pointed out that the heritage management has often been carried out in isolation, with no linkages to the urban planning process.
The Minister further said that HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) scheme was launched by the Government in 2014 for heritage/ tourism oriented urban development. He said that, the scheme is 100% centrally sponsored with an outlay of Rs 500 crores and in the pilot phase, 12 cities have been selected. He highlighted that there is need for convergence of schemes like Smart City, AMRUT and other state Government schemes to reinforce the cultural and Heritage India. Projects worth about Rs. 350 cr have so far been approved for implementation.
Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said that France had expressed interest to intervene on the subject of heritage and urban renewal heritage around waterfronts and accordingly two cities, namely Puri and Varanasi, have identified the projects relating to waterfront development.
Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Dr. M. Ramachandran, Chairman, IHCN and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.