These are some of the questions that custodians of Indian culture, experts and enthusiasts from the field are raising this Delhi elections, while asking parties to go beyond the "vote-catching" 'bijli-pani-sadak' poll plank and also talk about heritage and its preservation during the electioneering process.

"Heritage doesn't really even find a space in a political manifesto of any party for obvious reasons, it doesn't get them votes. And, politicians, anyway know that it is neither of any interest to the society, so why make it a poll issue," Convener, INTACH Delhi Chapter A G K Menon said.

A team of UNESCO last year visited Delhi to examine its claim of becoming a world heritage city. Under Menon's guidance the INTACH, on behalf of the Delhi government, had prepared a dossier that was sent to the UNESCO in pursuance of the coveted tag.
"It was difficult convincing the policy-makers to go for the tag, as there is a subliminal feeling that heritage is anti-development. Politician see new constructions as growth and presence of old structures as necessarily an impediment to that growth. And, hence heritage doesn't become a rallying point, like electricity, water and roads do, while wooing their voters," Menon said.
ASI Delhi Circle's Superintending Archaeologist, Vasant Swarankar also rues the "traditional absence" of heritage-related action plans in party manifestos and poll processes, "elections after elections."
Swarankar said, "They (MLA/MPs) could also adopt a monument or two, especially the small and neglected ones, as per ASI's scheme, like they adopt a village in their constituencies".

Delhi has about 1,200 monuments including over 170 under the ASI, Delhi Circle. The Delhi State Archaeology also has some heritage sites under its purview. A large number of monuments in the capital are also unprotected.
On the 'adopt-a-monument' scheme, sources at ASI said, "We get requests from many corporate houses, PSUs to avail such provisions. But, they only want to adopt famous monuments like Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Jantar Mantar, which already get enough attention. And, moreso, they do so mainly for tax exemptions and for self-advertisement only. This is where politicians could play an active role".

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