NEW DELHI: Four years on, Delhi can again hope for the coveted tag of a UNESCO World Heritage city. The Delhi government has decided to initiate the nomination process for the heritage status, which was abruptly withdrawn in May 2015 by the Centre without citing any reason.
The development came after a meeting between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and representatives of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) that took place on Wednesday morning.
Officials at the CMO said that an INTACH delegation had discussed the nomination of Delhi to the UNESCO’s list of world heritage cities with Kejriwal at the Delhi secretariat. “Representatives of INTACH held a discussion on the heritage city status with the CM today.
They briefed him about the history of nomination and how it was withdrawn in 2015. It has been resolved that the government will move a formal proposal before to the Centre recommending to start the process for sending the nomination once again,” said an official.
Swapna Liddle, convener of INTACH, with Annabel Lopez, consultant of the trust, met Kejriwal and urged him to re-initiate the nomination for the prestigious recognition.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was also present in the meeting, said the official.
The INTACH, which is associated with conservation and protection of historic buildings, had prepared the dossier on Delhi, which was a part of the formal application to UNESCO sent in January 2014.
Two cities under the title ‘Delhi’s Imperial Capital Cities’ — Shahjahanabad, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1639-48), and British colonial government’s capital — New Delhi (1911-31), were proposed for the heritage badge.
Kailash Nath Dixit, former joint director general of ASI, said he was not in favour of New Delhi but Shahjahanabad should be considered for the inscription. “Cities like Rajgiri and Puducherry must get that status. They are the old towns.
They should be preserved because they still have old architectures. New Delhi does not even have 100 years to talk about. Old cities such as Shahjahanabad and Mehrauli area must be preserved.”
He suggested that the dossier to be submitted with the nomination should be prepared carefully to present the case. “The dossier should be pitted in such a way so that all important factors should be known to them (UNESCO),” Dixit said.
Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, a heritage activist, said the city must get the tag as that will help Delhiites to understand its rich cultural heritage. “Delhi is the heritage capital of India and a melting pot of religious and cultural inheritance.”
Rooprai asserted that the status comes with a responsibility. “The biggest challenge is that we, residents of the city, are still unaware of importance in our history. We will need to work hard to maintain the tag,” he asserted.
Neighbouring Jaipur already in the heritage list
The prestigious badge was accorded to Jaipur in July, making it the second Indian city to be bestowed the honour after Ahmedabad.
The 15th-century city of Ahmedabad, founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah, was declared a ‘World Heritage City’ in July 2017, three years after Delhi opted out of the race.
Mumbai’s cluster of Victorian and Art Deco buildings and Marine Drive was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2018.
The INTACH delegation reportedly told Kejriwal that after Jaipur, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad were already on the heritage list, Delhi’s nomination should not be an issue.