Saturday, May 19, 2012

River-island, Majuli Nominated for Inclusion in UNESCO World Heritage List

The Government of India  proposed to nominate the name of Assam's river-island, Majuli, for inclusion in the cultural landscape category of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage list. Majuli, located in the middle of the Brahmaputra is considered to be the largest freshwater river-island in the world.

Majuli situated in Jorhat district of northern Assam is about 80 km wide and about 10-15 km long, with a total area of 875 sq.km.  Various ethno-cultural groups inhabit the island. These communities are united by the social institution of Sattra, which was introduced by the Vaishnava revivalist, saint Sankardeva, in the 16th century.

Majuli currently faces a greater threat from flood and erosion by the Brahmaputra than from external and modern influences. The ecosystem and age-old cultural and social system in Majuli are under pressure following the displacement of the local people and an increase in the population.

Conservation architect G.S.V. Suryanarayana Murthy was entrusted with responsibility by the Archaeological Survey of India to prepare the nomination dossier. Murthy's consultancy firm M/S Kshetra is also associated with the management plan peer review document for the nomination of Hyderabad's three Qutb Shahi monuments for the UNESCO World Heritage award.

The Majuli dossier will likely be ready by October 2011 to be submitted to the UUNESCO in February 2012. Majuli was shortlisted in the World Heritage Site (WHS) Tentative List at the World Heritage Committee session at Suzhou in China. Following the World Heritage Committee session at Suzhou a comprehensive nomination dossier was submitted in 2006, it was complimented later by additional information in 2008.

The revised dossier to be submitted in 2012 moves a step closer to securing WHS status for Majuli, incorporating all referred points of past conventions.