Our historical and heritage sites must be preserved
Bangladesh has numerous historical sites which the country can definitely be proud of. The remains of Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic structures dot the green and vibrant landscape of the country. At present the archaeology department owns 448 heritage sites - a lot lesser than what it once used to be.
Unfortunately though, many sites throughout the country lay in a dilapidated state due to the negligence of officials concerned. Just recently there were media reports about the historic Jinjira Palace, just a few kilometres from the capital. Today it's almost in a state of ruins as there is apparently no one to take care of the historic edifice. The Chhota Katara and the Bara Katara - once the pride and glory of Mughal Dhaka - are in shambles.
However, article 24 of the constitution of Bangladesh says that the state shall adopt measures for the protection against disfigurement, damage or removal of heritage monuments, objects or places of special artistic or historic importance or interest. We also have the Antiquities Act, 1968 that provides the modes of protection and preservation of things which are part of our national history and heritage.
The cultural ministry should make a list of such artefacts which are in a shambles and start preserving and renovating these. Of course it cannot be done in a short time but the process must start now. Heritage does not mean only built or natural wonders. It also refers to living heritage, like customs, rituals, literature and the performing arts.
We have an inherent responsibility to protect and preserve what we have been endowed with. The preservation of cultural heritage sites is not only foundational to shape the philosophical vision of a nation, if conserved properly; it could also positively impact the growth of tourism industry in Bangladesh.
According to a survey conducted by USG, some 40 buildings that were declared 'protected' by government authorities were demolished, partially destroyed or effaced. Experts and activists have been long campaigning for proper restoration and conservation of these buildings. Needs be mentioned lack of coordination between the Department of Archaeology and the Rahjdhani Unnayan Katripakkha is part of the reason that we are losing our heritage.
In spite of limited resources we have to ensure the best possible allocation and utilisation so to safeguard our heritage sites from downright obliteration.
Lastly, only heritage can incorporate both the tangible and the intangible. It is present in many forms such as landmarks, places, buildings and contents to spaces and views to stories and legacies associated with them. Without heritage a nation may have a present but no past. That said, our historical monuments are our national pride and many of them are in need of state-of-the-art conservation.