Know a heritage site that is crumbling down? Well, flag it at Heritage Alert Bengal, a digital platform where information about at-risk cultural heritage in West Bengal can be reported, stored and disseminated. Accessed through heritagealert.in, the open resource portal was launched here on Monday. “We want the local community to participate because the government does not have the manpower to go and find all the sites at risk. It is important for community to participate because there are many sites that may not be important in the international, national or regional narrative but are important to the people,” Tathagata, co-founder of Heritage Walk Calcutta, the company responsible for developing the database, told IANS.
For example, the database shows Bhot Bagan Math, a late 18th century Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Howrah district’s Ghusuri that was established as a result of Scottish adventurer and diplomat George Bogle’s successful Tibet mission as an envoy of East India Company between 1774-1777. A photograph shows the building in a dilapidated condition and the site lists it as “poor” in terms of condition. “In 2011, I did a survey project for West Bengal Heritage Commission, and mapped many sites that are risk in the state. Most of these sites have not made the list for protection with the Commission. They will also be added to the inventory,” Tathagata, a trained archaeologist, added.
To contribute, one has to post/click a photograph of the site (or cultural practice), write down a brief history and an approximate address/contact number of the people involved. “People can contact us via WhatsApp, directly though the website, email or through post. We believed in empowering the community and enable them to record the sites and whenever required we would also provide training through our team of archaeologists and experts to preserve the structure,” Tathagata added.