‘Varanasi Ghat among threatened world heritage sites'

Press Trust of India | | Updated on: Oct 06, 2011

The 18th century Balaji Ghat, situated along the river Ganges in Varanasi, is among the over 60 endangered cultural heritage sites in the world that are in dire need of preservation, according to World Monuments Fund (WMF), a private foundation.

WMF President, Mr Bonnie Burnham, on Thursday announced the ‘2012 World Monuments Watch', a list of 67 cultural heritage sites in 41 countries that need immediate assistance.

The sites include the Nasca lines and Geoglyphs in Peru, palace and garden of China's Nanyue Kingdom, England's Coventry Cathedral and the floating fishing villages in Vietnam.

WMF said, Balaji Ghat is an “important example of the buildings constructed along the Ganges to serve pilgrims worshipping at the holy river” in Varanasi, one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities.

Collapse of the main building of Balaji Ghat, likely from decay of the wood, points to inadequate conservation, maintenance as well as poor heritage protection, it said.

“Inclusion in the watch will support a plan to restore the building for use as a cultural centre and help to continue an ancient tradition of pilgrimage and enlightenment.”

The 67 sites “vividly illustrate the ever more pressing need to create a balance between heritage concerns and the social, economic and environmental interests of communities around the world,” WMF said here in a statement.

In addition to promoting community pride, heritage preservation can have a positive impact on local populations during difficult economic times by providing employment and development of well-managed tourism, it said.

“The World Monuments Watch is a call to action on behalf of endangered cultural heritage sites across the globe. And while these sites are historic, they are also very much of the present integral parts of the lives of the people who come into contact with them every day,” Mr Burnham said.

American Express, a founding sponsor of the World Monuments Watch, will contribute $5 million in support of the programme over the next five years, he said.

Published on October 06, 2011
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