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ASI fails to comply with UNESCO directive

By AJIT PATOWARY

GUWAHATI, April 21 � There may be a conspiracy by certain quarters in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to deprive Majuli River Island the status of a UNESCO world heritage site, observed former MP and chairman of the voluntary organisation Majuli Island Protection and Development Council (MIPADC) Dr Arun Kumar Sarma.

Majuli, the nerve centre of Assamese Vaishnavism, which has also emerged as a brilliant mosaic of ethnic cultures, has been trying to secure the world heritage site status under the cultural landscape category for the past several years. MIPADC is leading the movement for wresting the world heritage site status for the island.

Dr Sarma, while talking to The Assam Tribune said here today that as per the revised guideline of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) for inscription of a site under its cultural landscape category, four complete copies of the nomination dossier of the site concerned should be submitted to the WHC by end January every year.

Although the Majuli nomination dossier was sent earlier on two occasions, the WHC asked for the island�s comprehensive dossier this time, along with the documents sent earlier, on the basis of the UNESCO queries made time to time.

But it is learnt that the ASI this time sent only two copies of the Majuli nomination dossier and that too, one of them in an incomplete form. This incomplete copy was allegedly tampered with.

It came to light on the April 17, 2012 meeting held by Assam Governor J B Patnaik at the Raj Bhawan here that the ASI failed to comply with the WHC directive in this respect, despite the consultant concerned submitting over four complete sets of hardbound nomination dossier of the island to it in advance.

It is hence obvious that there was a clear-cut sabotage by certain ASI quarters in sending the Majuli nomination dossier.

This time, India has pleaded for inscribing three sites as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But as per the UNESCO norms, only two sites of a country can be inscribed as world heritage sites in a single year. And hence there is a scope to doubt that there was a definite conspiracy to benefit one of the rest two sites of the country at the cost of Majuli.

It is regrettable that the said quarters could dare to carry out such a diabolic design to deprive Majuli of its due, despite the commitment made some time back by none other than a leader of the stature of the Prime Minister.

The April 17 meeting of the stake holders at the Raj Bhawan here took exception to the failure of the ASI to submit four complete copies of Majuli nomination dossier to the UNESCO WHC. Significantly, ASI Additional Director General Dr B R Mani and ASI Director A K Sinha were conspicuous by their absence in the April 17 meeting, despite their consent to attend the same, Dr Sarma said.

The Superintending Archaeologist of the ASI NE Regional Office was not in a position to answer the queries of the other attendants of the April 17 meeting in a convincing manner.

The Government of Assam and the MPs from the State as well as NE region should mount pressure on the Central Government to prevent recurrence of such designs against any part of the region in the days to come, he said.

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ASI fails to comply with UNESCO directive

GUWAHATI, April 21 � There may be a conspiracy by certain quarters in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to deprive Majuli River Island the status of a UNESCO world heritage site, observed former MP and chairman of the voluntary organisation Majuli Island Protection and Development Council (MIPADC) Dr Arun Kumar Sarma.

Majuli, the nerve centre of Assamese Vaishnavism, which has also emerged as a brilliant mosaic of ethnic cultures, has been trying to secure the world heritage site status under the cultural landscape category for the past several years. MIPADC is leading the movement for wresting the world heritage site status for the island.

Dr Sarma, while talking to The Assam Tribune said here today that as per the revised guideline of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) for inscription of a site under its cultural landscape category, four complete copies of the nomination dossier of the site concerned should be submitted to the WHC by end January every year.

Although the Majuli nomination dossier was sent earlier on two occasions, the WHC asked for the island�s comprehensive dossier this time, along with the documents sent earlier, on the basis of the UNESCO queries made time to time.

But it is learnt that the ASI this time sent only two copies of the Majuli nomination dossier and that too, one of them in an incomplete form. This incomplete copy was allegedly tampered with.

It came to light on the April 17, 2012 meeting held by Assam Governor J B Patnaik at the Raj Bhawan here that the ASI failed to comply with the WHC directive in this respect, despite the consultant concerned submitting over four complete sets of hardbound nomination dossier of the island to it in advance.

It is hence obvious that there was a clear-cut sabotage by certain ASI quarters in sending the Majuli nomination dossier.

This time, India has pleaded for inscribing three sites as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But as per the UNESCO norms, only two sites of a country can be inscribed as world heritage sites in a single year. And hence there is a scope to doubt that there was a definite conspiracy to benefit one of the rest two sites of the country at the cost of Majuli.

It is regrettable that the said quarters could dare to carry out such a diabolic design to deprive Majuli of its due, despite the commitment made some time back by none other than a leader of the stature of the Prime Minister.

The April 17 meeting of the stake holders at the Raj Bhawan here took exception to the failure of the ASI to submit four complete copies of Majuli nomination dossier to the UNESCO WHC. Significantly, ASI Additional Director General Dr B R Mani and ASI Director A K Sinha were conspicuous by their absence in the April 17 meeting, despite their consent to attend the same, Dr Sarma said.

The Superintending Archaeologist of the ASI NE Regional Office was not in a position to answer the queries of the other attendants of the April 17 meeting in a convincing manner.

The Government of Assam and the MPs from the State as well as NE region should mount pressure on the Central Government to prevent recurrence of such designs against any part of the region in the days to come, he said.