Assam renews bid for Majuli heritage tag

Even as Assam has renewed its campaign to get UNESCO World Heritage Site status for Majuli,one of the largest inhabited river islands in the world

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati | Published:May 14, 2012 12:04 am

Even as Assam has renewed its campaign to get UNESCO World Heritage Site status for Majuli,one of the largest inhabited river islands in the world,some in the state are blaming the Archaeological Survey of India for the failure of its previous attempt.

UNESCO had returned Majuli’s nomination for World Heritage Site saying it was “technically incomplete”. ASI had sent only two copies of nomination dossier instead of three as required. Worse,one of them had several pages missing. The World Heritage Committee has now asked New Delhi to send its revised dossier by September 30.

“I had submitted six identical copies of Majuli dossier to the ASI after thoroughly checking each page in each copy,” said G S V Suryanarayana Murthy,a conservation architect engaged by the ASI to prepare the nomination dossier.

Some suspect that someone in the ASI might have tried to sabotage the nomination. “It is strange that such discrepancies had occurred in such a serious matter. It is indeed a matter that should be thoroughly investigated and those responsible be held accountable for the lapse,” said Dibrugarh University’s Prof D Nath,who is considered an authority on Majuli.

S S Gupta,ASI superintending archaeologist in Guwahati said he “has written to the higher authorities twice to institute a probe and find out why such discrepancies occurred in such a serious matter.” However,there has been no response so far,he added.

Majuli,a centre of Assamese art,culture and music and home to the Mising tribe,lost 227.43 sq km of its land mass between 1914 and 2008 to the Brahmaputra. But Union Minister of State for Water Resources Vincent Pala informed Rajya Sabha last week that not only has the erosion stopped but Majuli land mass has increased from 502.21 sq km in 2004 to 520.26 sq km in 2011.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has asked the ASI to make its best efforts to secure the heritage status for the island. “Majuli is a fit case for declaration as a World Heritage Site. ASI must put in its best efforts to present Majuli’s case before UNESCO,” Gogoi said at an event organised by the Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority to deliberate ways to make Majuli’s case for heritage status stronger.

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