New Delhi: Delhi has dropped out of the race to be named a World Heritage city just a month before UNESCO was to review nominations from across the world. Government claims this decision has been taken because it would have conflicted with plans for infrastructure and construction in the capital.
“Once the city comes into that heritage list, you are unable to make some construction in the city plans and land use plans, so it will become difficult. With that view the government has taken a decision to withdraw the nomination,” said Mahesh Sharma, Union Culture Minister.
The previous Congress governments in Delhi and the Centre had prepared ground work for Delhi’s nomination. The government had sent the initial nomination to UNESCO in 2012 and the final dossier was prepared by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in January 2014.
“We worked so hard on it since the conception of the idea. The government’s decision is heart-breaking,” said AGK Menon, Convenor of INTACH. ” At least we should have been consulted before taking a decision. The area nominated is barely 1.5 per cent of the total area of Delhi,” he said, countering the government’s argument.
The areas listed in the government’s dossier include the Mughal-era Shahjahanabad in old Delhi and the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone, a part of the new imperial capital designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker.
Besides Delhi, 38 other cities have been nominated for the title of heritage city. A heritage city tag is seen as worldwide recognition which can boost tourism.
The Culture Minister indicated that the government is open to considering nominating Delhi again.