Friday, March 31

State pushes for Kolkata to get ‘historic town’ tag in two-day meet with Unesco

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If Ahmedabad has it, so can Kolkata. In a two-day meeting with Unesco that concluded on Friday, the state pushed for the world heritage crown for the city. The governement has also pitched Durga Puja for the coveted tag. The state’s plea for Kolkata is being sent by the Unesco team to its headquarters in Paris for further queries. Accordingly, a dossier will be prepared to defend the case for Kolkata as a ‘historic town’.

The draft resolution of the Unesco meeting in the city says it will take up the cause of Kolkata and Durga Puja by placing the requests of the state at its headquarters to set the ball rolling for the lengthy process. The meeting in the city was organized by the tourism department and was attended by representatives of other states, who came with their separate pleas, and other South Asian countries, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Macaw. Unesco officials said that the aim of the meeting was to bring in deserving built and intangible heritage from South Asian countries within its fold to shift focus from Europe and America. Among the other states that presented their cases were Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Telangana.

Kolkata’s plea was presented by city historian Santosh Ghosh, who traced the history of the city from the pre-British times to the Raj and included the colonies of the other European settlers along the Hooghly. The case was defended by the West Bengal Heritage Commission that was represented by heritage conservationist Partha Ranjan Das and secretary Umapada Chatterjee.

In the past, a plea for Dalhousie had been made, but there was not much progress. “This time, we are not only trying to showcase Dalhousie but also large parts of Central and north Kolkata, which bear the imprint of the Raj era. The Unesco officials were convinced with our defence. Once the queries come in, we will start preparing the dossier for the city, presenting every detail of the built heritage that the city has to stake its claim,” Das said.

The case for Durga Puja, with its history, variations and socio-economic relevance, will also be drawn up in a separate dossier. “The world heritage tag is also awarded for intangible heritage and we are pitching Durga Puja in that category,” said state tourism secretary Atri Bhattacharya.

The state had earlier pitched Bishnupur and Santiniketan as historic cities and Neora Valley Park for the natural heritage tag, but nothing came of it. “Once the queries come in, we will move in a more structured fashion. The Archaeological Survey of India has to be involved in the process because the final application of the state has to go to Unesco via the ministry of culture,” said Chatterjee.

Source: Times of India

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