GUWAHATI, May 12 � Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today asserted that the State Government is determined to protect river island Majuli and committed to do anything required to wrest the UNESCO World Heritage Site status to this unique river island. For, it is the nerve centre of our culture, he said. He was inaugurating a day-long seminar on Majuli�s cultural landscape heritage value and its future organised by the Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority and Commissioner of the Upper Assam Division.
The Chief Minister also underlined the need to fulfill all the UNESCO conditions for getting Majuli�s name inscribed as a world heritage site. �The Government will extend all sorts of support and even bear the expenses of the visits of our experts to the UNESCO headquarters for the purpose of highlighting the case of the river island and also for lobbying,� he said.
Moreover, he said, the State Government is prepared even to bear the expenses of outside the State or foreign experts for the purpose if the situation so demands.
Majuli is a unique cultural centre. We must be careful in keeping its heritage intact. For getting its name inscribed in the list of world heritage sites, the people of Majuli need to adhere to their heritage and should not clamour for modern structures. For, the world heritage site status to the island will ultimately benefit them, the Chief Minister said.
Admitting that the number of new bhakats in the Sattras has been decreasing, the Chief Minister stressed on the need to cope with the social environment of the present time in keeping alive such traditions. To keep alive the tradition, he said, the Government will consider the issue of providing allowance, pension etc to the bhakats. He made an appeal to the people to donate generously to the Sattra institutions liberally.
But, at the same time, he said, Government grants etc also give rise to the number of beneficiaries who are not seen operative in normal condition. In this case, he referred to the example of abrupt rise in the number of Sattra institutions as soon as the Government announced financial assistance to the Sattras.
Earlier, State�s Water Resources Minister Rajiv Lochan Pegu welcomed the guests. He is also the working president of the voluntary organisation Majuli Island Protection and Development Council (MIPADC), which initiated the move to get Majuli inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Pegu said that there was a time when the Central Government, and more particularly the Central Water Commission (CWC), was for shifting the people of Majuli to safer places instead of providing physical protection to the island.
He regretted that the number of bhakats of the Sattras has been coming down and referred to the plea made by some of the Sattras that there should be a provision to provide allowance, pension etc to the bhakats.
The function was addressed by Upper Assam Commissioner Sayed Iftiquar Hussain, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority.
The inaugural function was followed by two technical sessions of the seminar. The first session was addressed by GSV Suryanarayana Murthy, the consultant architect who prepared the latest nomination dossier of the river island for getting its name inscribed as a world heritage site.
Murthy said that he had submitted six copies of the nomination dossier to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the Government of India�s nodal agency for the purpose, to submit them to the UNESCO. But significantly, only two copies of the dossier were submitted by the ASI to the UNESCO and one of the copies had some of its pages missing. There may some mismanagement, he said.
Prof Sanjib Barkakoty of the ADP College, Nagaon in his address alleged that there might be some sabotage by some quarter to deny Majuli a world heritage site status. The two member screening committee which was supposed to go through the dossier was also kept in the dark so far as the dossier is concerned, he said.
MIPADC general secretary Bharat Saikia spoke on the progress of the move to wrest world heritage site status for the island. Saikia was the man who attempted the first nomination dossier for the island, which could convince the UNESCO about the potential of Majuli to become a world heritage site and to provide a grant of US $ 20,000 for preparation of the full-fledged dossier for the purpose.
The second session was addressed by Surajit Joradhara, the architect who prepared the first full-fledged nomination dossier of the island for the purpose of getting world heritage site status.
The resource persons also interacted with the audience.