In a bid to attract foreign funds and overseas tourists, the government has embarked on a 'major initiative' to identify 50 historical monuments in the country to be presented to the UNESCO for earning a 'World Heritage' tag for them.
The ministry of culture through the Archaeological Survey of India has asked all its 24 circles in the country to identify ten monuments each. Out of the 240 monuments selected, the ministry will shortlist 50 entries to be sent to the international body.
"We have undertaken a major initiative to identify historical monuments for getting the 'World Heritage' tag for them. All the ASI circles in the country have been asked to spot potential monuments in their regions," ASI director general K N Shrivastava told PTI.
Fifty monuments is the aim this time. However, only a few clear the benchmark at the World Heritage Committee but our effort is to send a good tentative list from India to become a worthy case with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, he said.
Apart from domestic tourists, a World Heritage monument brings worldwide audience and archaeologists, which help the country earn fame and appreciation across the globe, he said.
The international tag also comes along with funds to be used for conservation and upkeep of the monument.
The last monument to be declared a World Heritage from India was the historic Red Fort in the national capital in 2007.
The ongoing exercise will be finished by early next year, Shrivastava said.
The World Heritage Committee is presently meeting in Seville in Spain to decide the names for choosing new monuments and reviewing the enlisted ones to get the tag this year.
India, at present, has 27 World Heritage properties, out of which 22 are cultural properties (eg. Red Fort) and five are natural properties (eg. Kaziranga National Park in Assam).
According to the UNESCO, an inscription on the World Heritage list places "an international obligation on the ASI to provide for careful protection and management of the site, to prevent any further damage to the built fabric and historic gardens in the fort and its setting and to ensure its survival for future generations."
The ASI through its excavation, pre-history, building and temple survey, epigraphy, science and underwater archeology wings would mark and finalise monuments which need UNESCO conservation and have high value of appreciation.
India, since 1977, has been an active member of the World Heritage which aims to identify monuments 'of exceptional interest and universal value, the protection of which is the concern of all mankind and to promote co-operation among all nations and people to contribute for the protection of these universal treasures intact for future generations'.