World heritage tag eludes Shantiniketan

| | Updated on: May 08, 2011

Shantiniketan, the living legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, will have to wait for its turn to be listed as a world heritage site, though India's other entry, the Western Ghats, has been shortlisted by Unesco to be considered for inscription.

Shantiniketan, which houses the world-famous Visva Bharati University and attracts thousands of tourists, was India's official entry this year for Unesco's list of World Heritage Sites, along with the Western Ghats, which was nominated in the category of natural sites.

A statement from Unesco said that it has picked up sites by 42 remarkable natural and cultural properties from 40 countries to be considered for inclusion on Unesco's World Heritage List during the meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Paris between June 19 and 29.

While Shantiniketan failed to appear on the shortlist for cultural sites, the Western Ghats that stretch for 1,600 km on the western side of India made it to the next stage in the category of natural sites.

The Culture Secretary, Mr Jawhar Sircar, said the Ministry, in coordination with the State government in West Bengal, will work on further strengthening of the system to look after the Shantiniketan as required by the Unesco.

He said currently there is more than one authority entrusted with looking after the institution, including the Gram Panchayat, Vishwa Bharti, Shantiniketan Development Authority and the Zila Parishad, but a “unity of command” is required for a World Heritage Site.

“We are waiting for the elections in West Bengal to get over. We will then consult the state government, and come up with something more vigorous,” Mr Sircar told PTI.

“Before the end of the year, we will again make a submission for the next round of listing,” he said.

India today launched magnificent celebrations for the 150th year birth anniversary of the Nobel laureate, and it would have been a fitting tribute if Tagore's abode had been picked up for inscription as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations' cultural arm.

If selected, Shantiniketan would have been West Bengal's third World Heritage Site after Darjeeling mountain railways and Sundarbans National Park.

Other world sites that figure on Unesco's temporary list, along with the Western Ghats, are the Ningaloo Coast of Australia, Wudalianchi National Park of China, Harra Protected Area of Iran and Ogasawara Islands of Japan, among others.

As of today, the World Heritage List numbers 911 properties of “outstanding universal value,” including 704 cultural, 180 natural and 27 mixed properties in 151 countries.

Published on May 08, 2011

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