India renominates Majuli for world heritage status

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New Delhi, Feb 5 (UNI) The government today said it had re-nominated the Majuli Island in Assam's Jorhat district, the world's largest riverine island, for inscription on the UNESCO's World Heritage List under the 'Cultural Landscape' category this year.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which acts as the nodal agency for nomination of Indian sites on the World Heritage List, has prepared a detailed document with the help of consultants and has submitted the additional information for consideration of the World Heritage Committee at its next meeting to be held at Quebec City, Canada in June.

If inscribed, Majuli Island will be first world heritage site in India under the 'cultural landscape' category, which contains both cultural and natural components.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called a meeting in October last year to discuss issues relating to Majuli island with Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni and Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz.

These issues included the threat of erosion by the Brahmaputra river and the status of ASI's preparedness to resubmit the site for consideration by UNESCO this year.

Subsequently, a high-level Central team, assisted by ASI Director General Anshu Vaish, visited Majuli in November 2007 for an on-site review of the status on both counts.

India currently has 27 World Heritage Sites, 22 of which are Cultural and five Natural. The Red Fort in Delhi was the most recent addition to the list last year.

Majuli is located in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra river.

For the past 500 years or so, Majuli has been seen as the cradle of Assamese culture and a centre of the neo-Vaishnavite movement. It has 31 'Sattras', which are institutions of culture and education, and are also the main repositories of the cultural resources of Majuli.

Located in a complex delta system, Majuli is formed at the confluence of Brahmaputra and Lohit rivers. A number of other tributaries also join the rivers close to the island. The island witnesses an annual cycle of floods, erosion and siltation and has a complex and fragile eco-system, with a delicate balance of interaction between man and nature.

Majuli was first nominated for World Heritage Status in 2004. The International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory body to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, had carried out a detailed evaluation of the Majuli Island in 2005.

Based on the ICOMOS report, the World Heritage Centre sought additional information by way of the mapping of 'Sattras and their influence, inventory of cultural resources of the Sattras, their condition analysis, preparation of a risk preparedness strategy for the island, etc. The nomination came up for consideration before the World Heritage Committee in 2006, but was referred back for collating and providing the additional information.

Given the complexity of the site, the additional documentation has been prepared using a multi-disciplinary approach and in consultation with a number of field agencies including those under the Ministry of Water Resources and the Assam Government.

In addition to Majuli, the Kalka-Shimla Railway has been submitted as a fresh 'Cultural' nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List this yearin 2008. This nomination has also been evaluated by ICOMOS for UNESCO.

UNI SKS SY HS1817

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