State drags feet on Unesco plan

State drags feet on Unesco plan

This, despite another reminder by the World Heritage Centre (WHC) and the advisory bodies of the Unesco.

During the 34th convention of the World Heritage Committee last year in Brazil, the WHC and advisory bodies had expressed concern over India’s non-submission of the IMP. The minutes of the convention have been detailed on Unesco’s website.

WHC had set February 1, 2011, as deadline for India to submit the IMP, so that it can subsequently adopt and implement the IMP. The same was to be reviewed by WHC at the Paris convention.

“Decisions taken by WHC on Hampi at its 31st, 32nd and 33rd sessions have not yet been fully implemented. These works need to be undertaken with urgency to have a robust management system to address conservation, protection and development challenges,” says WHC.

India, which submitted the draft IMP in 2007, is yet to implement the various programmes envisioned in it. This is the primary cause for the delay in finalising the ‘submission document’, says Prof Nalini Thakur of the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, who has been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing and submitting the IMP.

Nalini says lack of coordination between the local, district, State and national agencies has made it difficult to finalise the plan.

Negative impact

“There is no system in place. All these agencies have to work together and we all have a part to play. Unfortunately, this is not being done properly. This might impact the site negatively in the long term.”

The primary implementing agencies, however, are the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority (HWHAMA) set up by the State government. It is these two agencies, which will on behalf of India, sign the final document.

Nalini said that a lot of money was being spent on the tourism sector, with the authorities even drawing up a tourism strategy. “This was not even asked for by Unesco.

There needs to be a joint programme for heritage management with a set of uniform standards. Also, work needs to be done in the health and education sectors, which have been completely ignored. If the agencies concerned pulled up their socks, then the final document can be submitted next year,” she said.

WHC had also expressed concern over the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value not being submitted, while noting that the draft IMP submitted “does not make for easy interpretation.”

It states that no permission was sought from Unesco to extend the site area, even as the authorities have failed to clear the encroachments in Hampi Bazaar and Virupapura Gadde.

HWHAMA says that clearing encroachments has been a real ordeal.

The Hampi Bazaar residents have moved the court opposing their displacement. Also, 15 resort owners, who are alleged to have illegally set up properties in the forest land in Virupapura Gadde, have filed objections in the court. As many as 45 properties, including resorts, hotels and makeshift lodges with a capacity of 540 rooms, have encroached on this area.

HWHAMA has identified 11 acres of land in Kaddiramapura, four kilometres from the core area, to shift 236 families presently residing in Hampi Bazaar, while a new place has been identified to build a bridge for vehicles at Bukkasagar, five kilometres from the site area.

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