Assam’s Majuli island misses out on World Heritage Site tag again
Guwahati: Majuli, which is said to be the world’s largest inhabited river island, seems to have missed out on its global recognition as the Central government recently decided to nominate two sites -- both from Madhya Pradesh -- to the World Heritage Centre (WHC) to be nominated as World Heritage Sites this year.
In a reply to a query in Lok Sabha on Monday, Union minister of state for culture and tourism Prahlad Singh Patel informed that the Central government has nominated two sites -- ‘Dholavira: A Harappan City’ and ‘Monuments and Forts of Deccan Sultanate’ -- for inclusion in the World Heritage Site list for the current year.
Interestingly, Madhya Pradesh state government submitted the proposal of Group of Monuments to get included in the World Heritage Site list in 2019, following which it was forwarded to WHC for ‘completeness check’. After going through the details, the Central government eventually conveyed the inputs received from WHC to Madhya Pradesh government for further incorporation.
Meanwhile, a consultation workshop to ‘inventorise and prioritise’ the potential World Heritage Sites of the state was jointly organised by the Wildlife Institute of India and the Madhya Pradesh state government. In the workshop, Bhedaghat (Narmada Valley) was proposed as one of the recommended potential sites subject to criteria set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Centre.
Significantly, the government of India in 2011 had proposed the name of Majuli river island for its inclusion in the ‘cultural landscape’ category of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, following which the Central government along with Archaeological Survey of India-appointed conservation architect GSV Suryanarayana Murthy as the man to prepare the nomination dossier for the proposal. It was submitted to UNESCO in February 2012.
Majuli was shortlisted in the World Heritage Site ‘tentative list’ at the World Heritage Committee session at Suzhou in China. A comprehensive nomination dossier was also submitted in 2006, followed by additional information in 2008.
In 2017, the culture ministry decided to send the proposal for Majuli’s inclusion in the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal also met the then culture minister Mahesh Sharma in this regard and expressed the state government’s determination to have the Majuli river island included in the World Heritage Site list.
However, in reply to a query in Lok Sabha, Sharma told the House later that there is no provision of declaring any island as a heritage site under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.