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Eyeing 'smart' future, Jaipur polishes its heritage

Jaipur has fished out of its trove heritage buildings and is dusting off its fabled pink markets and stepwells to make them all squeaky clean for the second anniversary of the launch of the Centre's smart city project. Jaipur made it to the select list of smart cities -- balancing the old and the new -- six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the project on June 25, 2015.

Officials here said before the year-end, Jaipur would have completed much of its heritage restoration work.

The area-based development is being executed by the Jaipur Smart City Limited (JSCL), formed on March 12, 2016. An amount of Rs 483.65 crore has been earmarked for promoting heritage and tourism in the city under the mission.

"The idea is to restore Jaipur's heritage so that it can be cherished by the city's people and explored by travellers who visit Jaipur for its architectural beauty and rich culture," said JSCL chairman Manjit Singh.

The Union Urban Development Ministry has approved investments worth Rs 2,401 crore for Jaipur under the smart city project, which will also include facilities for multi- modal mobility, smart solid waste management, wifi network in some areas and high-tech classrooms.

Jaipur, built in 1728 AD by Maharaja Jai Singh, earned its moniker 'pink city' in 1853, when the city was painted pink in honour of a visit by the Prince of Wales during the reign of Sawai Ram Singh.

Over the years, these iconic markets have been encroached upon. Facades have been damaged, and is now an ungainly sight of hanging cables.

"We want to revive the lost beauty of the Pink City and will do this by repairing the damage, removing the clutter and repainting the facade with the original colour," said Singh.

The restoration is being done with traditional methods, preparing lime plaster and original 'khamira' colour.

"We are likely to complete this by June 2018," said the smart city project conservation architect Kavita Jain.
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