After years of preparations, the Centre has withdrawn the nomination of Delhi as the UNESCO World Heritage City, saying the prestigious tag, if granted, will put “lot of restrictions” on carrying out infrastructure works in the national capital.
The decision to pull out from the race came just a month before UNESCO is to set to review the nominations for the coveted tag. Besides, Delhi, there are 38 other nominations for inclusion into the heritage list.
“We (ministry of culture) had a long discussion on the issue with the urban development ministry. There were reservations from the urban development ministry that if Delhi is declared World Heritage City, there would be lot of restrictions.
“Once the city comes into that heritage list, you are unable to make some construction in the city plans, land use plans... so it will become difficult. And, because they want to grow with Delhi also, with that view the government has taken a decision to withdraw the nomination,” Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said.
The Sheila Dikshit government as well as the United Progressive Alliance regime had put in lot of effort to help earn Delhi the heritage tag.
The ministry of culture had sent the initial nomination to the UNESCO in 2012 and the final “voluminous” dossier for it, prepared by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage was sent in January last year.
A team from the world body visited the city in October to examine the heritage sites mentioned in the dossier. The decision on the nomination was expected sometime this June.
The two areas listed in the dossier are Shahjahanabad in old Delhi which has the Mughal-era heritage and Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone in New Delhi, part of the new imperial capital designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker after the 1911 Delhi Durbar.
The minister further said that “of course, it’s not the whole Delhi but only Lutyens’s Zone and some parts of Old Delhi (are in the nomination)... So, there would be lots of restriction... if the tag comes along.”
Asked if the government would think of renominating the city for the coveted tag again, he said, “Well, we will consider” but insisted that at present it would not be appropriate as the government wants to carry out construction work.
Image: A view of the Red Fort situated in Old Delhi. The Centre decided to pull out over development concerns. Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images