'First' World Heritage City title eludes Delhi | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'First' World Heritage City title eludes Delhi

delhi Updated: Dec 12, 2010 23:28 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Even with a continuous habitation record of more than 1,000 years, Delhi seems to have failed to beat Ahmedabad in featuring as India's first UNESCO listed World Heritage City.

With sites dating back to Harappan era and around 1,200 heritage monuments and structures, including three World Heritage Sites, Delhi has far better stakes than any other city in India to be a World Heritage City (WHC), a title that helps increase flow of foreign tourists.

The authorities of Municipal Corporation of Amhedabad, a city founded approximately 600 years ago, last Sunday handed over a dossier to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the nodal agency

for India.

The ASI, in turn, would submit it to the UNESCO for including it in the "tentative list" of the WHCs.

BR Mani, ASI spokesperson said, "We need little more information from Ahmedabad. Once the prescribed dossier is completed, we will send it to the UNESCO."

It is not that authorities in Delhi have not thought about it. In fact, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to make Delhi a World Heritage City was signed in 2008 by the Delhi government and the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a not-for-profit organisation working in the field of heritage conservation.

"As against Ahmedabad, we don't have a consensus among the stakeholders. The people out there are very aggressive and proud about their heritage, which is reflected in the attitude of the government and the local body there," said AGK Menon, who heads INTACH's Delhi chapter.

"For Delhi, conflict of interest between various stakeholders is one of the reasons while multiplicity of authorities is another," Menon added.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit said her government is looking into the issue. "We have started with lighting up several monuments ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Things are happening, albeit slowly," she said.

Dikshit also mentioned about a detailed "well-researched exhibition on the City" by INTACH, which is a step towards the direction. The exhibition 'Delhi: A Living Heritage' explains what Delhi as a heritage city means and its significance to humanity.

But then what happened to the MoU signed in 2008? "Let us first get on to a position where we can put up a proposal (formal proposal to the ASI to be submitted to the UNESCO). We are trying to reach that stage, the process is on," Dikshit assured.