Punjab, UNESCO team up to preserve culture

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2011, 15:15 PM IST

Chandigarh: The Punjab government Saturday announced a Rs 1 billion (Rs.100 crore) project with UNESCO to prepare a professional policy for cultural preservation in the state.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by principal secretary for tourism and culture Geetika Kalha and Unesco director Armoogum Parsuramen here in the presence of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Badal said the project would be completed within 18 months and the Punjab government has set aside Rs.100 crore for this.

He said that in the first phase, focus would be on preservation of monuments and museums identified by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

"Punjab is the first state in the country that has chosen a professional model to preserve its oldest cultural heritage," Badal said.

"Punjab is rich in tangible and intangible cultural heritage ranging from archaeological remains of the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley civilisation right up to the planning and construction of its modern capital city Chandigarh," he added.

He said this heritage of Punjab displayed rich evidence of being a thriving and much sought about gateway to the subcontinent and a key stop along important trade routes with linkages to the Silk Route and later the Grand Trunk Road.

"These encompassed not only tangible assets of archaeology and architecture, but a rich philosophy, poetry, spirituality, crafts, artistry, music, cuisine and multi-fold traditions," he added.

The Punjab government has sought the assistance of Unesco-New Delhi whose mandate is to protect and promote natural and cultural heritage while enhancing international mutual understanding among nations and people.

Kalha said the plan would focus on building the heritage, including ancient monuments, urban and rural heritage settlements, structures, gardens, archaeological and physical heritage sites and artefacts.

She said Unesco would provide technical assistance for the process of project design and identification, selection and hiring of lead consultants for this project.