As primary partner on heritage maintenance and work, the iconic PWD has a huge impact on heritage conservation today, as well as in drilling down concepts and conservation through simple frameworks and directives driven via its mammoth construction machinery. Yet the effect, intervention and impact has been less than satisfactory, and sadly in some cases outright detrimental.
How do we get the PWD juggernaut to not only to relook authentically and deeply at its heritage vision and processes, but also work preemptively across non heritage areas by ensuring its other constructions are respectful of spatial contiguity and cultural ethos?
It’s not as difficult as it sounds If the spirit and the letter of heritage is rebranded into PWD and its preemptive place in conservation and heritage preservation is reemphasized, even redone. Satya Paramarsh Varanashi, former Chair of Intach says ‘PWD (founded in 1854 - among the oldest in world) manual from the British times could have looked at maintenance and repair only. Formal restoration practise was documented in 1923 by John Marshall who wrote Conservation manual which became the guide for ASI restoration..not adopted by PWD.
CPWD may have restoration standards but problems lie in project being tendered to least quote contractor who may not know what restoration means, yet gets his bills cleared by the PWD engineers. When guidelines become lines in a page, no standards can be expected.
Public pressure to 'restore the reconstructed' may help..however shallow it may be.