Andhra Pradesh eyes Unesco tag for its heritage sites
Visakhapatnam: With the imminent celebration of World Heritage Day on April 18, the demand for historical locations in Andhra Pradesh to be deemed Unesco World Heritage Sites has come to the fore again. However, not a single heritage structure from the state has made it to India’s tentative list of sites. The tentative list is an inventory of sites proposed by the state party to Unesco. The World Heritage Committee considers for nomination to the World Heritage list, those sites that have been included in the tentative lists of state parties. So far, 44 properties have been included in India’s tentative list.
The Hyderabad Chapter of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been asked by K. Lour-dusamy, the ASI director of World Heritage, to prepare an exhaustive proposal for four heritage sites — Lepakshi, Salihundam, Sankaram and Nagarjunakonda, to che-ck if they can be included in the tentative list. The Ministry for Culture and Tourism turned do-wn requests of the AP government to include Borra Caves, Gandikota For-t, Chandragiri Fort, Gunt-upalli Caves and Amaravati Maha Stupa in the Unesco Heritage List, and said that they were not a part of the tentative list.
Edward Paul, a renowned historian and a member of Intach, said, “The proposed sites have a hi-gh potential to get the Un-esco tag; it will help put the sites on the world map. But the state government has to comply with the stringent guidelines first. One of the major criteria is that no development works can be taken up around the site.” D. Kanna Babu, the de-puty superintendent archaeologist of the Hydera-bad Chapter of the ASI, said, “The proposed heritage sites in undivided Andhra Pradesh did not make it to the tentative list because of the hum-an habitations around them, and because of the lack of facilities for visitors.
Lepakshi, Salihundam, Sankaram are highly eligible to gain recognition. We have already assigned the documentation work for Lepakshi to a private architecture fi-rm. However, the people residing around that area need to be shifted to some other place and given proper rehabilitation. Sanka-ram and Salihundam alr-eady meet the required cr-iteria. I hope that Lepak-shi from AP will make it to the tentative list within a year.” Some heritage activists believe that recognition does not guarantee more funds for the sites, but it ensures more footfall; and the Union Government needs to start taking measures to protect the sites.