A delegation of Architects involved in heritage conservation and retrofitting of school infrastructure on Friday called on Minister for Education, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari here at his private office.
During the meeting a number of conservation proposals for heritage buildings housing schools in both urban and rural Kashmir were discussed threadbare.
Accompanied by Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Dr Shafqat Khan, the delegation included Ms. Gurmeet S Rai, a Conservation Architect and Vice President, ICOMOS-India and Mihir Joshi, Head of Networks and Partnerships of Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS).
The delegation appraised the Minister about various issues regarding the preservation of heritage school buildings with respect to the ecology of Kashmir. The meeting recognized the need and urgency to conserve and retrofit the school buildings for both heritage value as well as safe use by the children.
Two government schools one in Fateh Kadal in Srinagar and another in North Kashmir were agreed to be undertaken as a pilot project. The National Centre for Safety of Heritage Structures (NCSHS) in IIT Madras, and department of civil engineering would be engaged in this project.
Learning from the school conservation and retrofitting project would be the first project of its kind to develop retrofitting guidelines for Taq buildings in Kashmir.
Local technical institutions like NIT, Srinagar would also participate in this project. Traditional craftsmen would also be engaged in the process for mutual learning and integration of traditional knowledge system with modern scientific processes and knowhow in the valley.
It was decided that the specialists will prepare the project documents within a period of two months and project implementation will be in next six months.
Explaining the concept of retrofitting, the architects informed that it is the process of making old and weak buildings safe from earthquake and other risks. It is a scientifically proven way for saving old structures and traditional construction practices of the region, they informed the meeting.
The minister asked the delegation to submit a proposal along with the estimated cost for the project before the department. He directed the SMC Commissioner to provide all necessary information and help in the project and set six months for the completion of the project.
Bukhari asked the architects that these schools should set examples as for as the preservation of heritage is concerned and assured an extension in the project only after satisfactory results.
He said that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been supporting the rehabilitation of schools affected by the devastating 2014 floods, and is extending the efforts to strengthen schools in dilapidated buildings in downtown Srinagar and other parts of the valley.
Bukhari said that special attention would be given to the heritage aspect of old buildings that house such schools.