UNESCO clarifies on Harmandar Sahib status

This is part of the minutes of the meeting, held in the office of the Chairman National Commission for Minorities, copy of which has been given to The Tribune by the Chairman (NCM), Mr Tarlochan Singh, here today. He was here to preside over the installation ceremony of the president of the Rotary Club.

Giving details of the meeting, the NCM Chairman informed that Mr Babu Rajeev, Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), had clarified that the inscription of Harmandar Sahib on the WHS would not in any way alter the management status of the shrine. The management of Harmandar Sahib would continue to remain with the SGPC even after the inscription of the shrine on the WHS. Neither in the nomination dossier nor in the site management plan, there was any proposal to replace the present management system. Therefore, the question of the new management system, after inscription on the WHS list does not arise.

Much to the embarrassment of the SGPC executive committee which had recommended the withdrawal of the dossier, all three members who attended the meeting concluded that the apprehensions raised by the committee were unfounded.

The ASI Director clarified that there was no proposal to interfere in the management of the core precinct (Darbar Sahib complex). UNESCO did not and would not impose any management directions on the WHS, he said. Any suggestion from UNESCO as an expert body would only be advisory in nature with regard to upholding and conserving the heritage value of a site. Full responsibility for protection as well as suggested conservation of the heritage property would be with the SGPC, he added.

He said the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was only a nodal agency for such tangible heritage in India in so far as UNESCO was concerned. Therefore, the ASI reports to the World Heritage Committee on all matters of importance on WHS.

Professor Tawfik, Director, UNESCO, however, clarified that the purpose of granting WHS to a particular historical monument was to preserve it for generations to come for record and for their posterity. He said the Director-General, ASI, had taken a wise decision by withdrawing the dossier. He urged the ASI to take the initiative of organising a discussion in the form of seminars or debates to discuss on the issue to appraise the apprehensions of the Sikh community.

He said a country could send only one nomination for WHS every year, but India had lost the chance to send the nomination this year. ‘We have only withdrawn the nomination of Harmandar Sahib this year, but there is no bar on resubmitting the application next year.

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