The Unesco World Heritage website, which gives regular updates on nominations for its review session in Germany next month, said Delhi's Imperial Capital Cities nomination was withdrawn by the state party (permanent delegation of India to Unesco) on May 21.
In a huge embarrassment for India, the country is out of the running at this year's World Heritage Committee session as Delhi was its only entry. "Delhi was the only nomination submitted last year for the world heritage tag," said an official. "Kanchenjunga's nomination was also planned in the natural section but its dossier could not be completed in time due to some boundary disputes. Kanchenjunga, Nalanda and Chandigarh were nominated this year in February and they will be reviewed only in June 2016.''
Another expert said, "If India re-nominates Delhi for the tag, the process of submitting the tentative and final dossiers all over again would take two to four years at least. Although the Centre did not explain its move, sources said it had decided to withdraw Delhi's nomination several weeks ago but made it official through Unesco's headquarters in Paris early this week. "The nomination was withdrawn by the permanent delegation of India, which is under the Ministry of External Affairs," said a source. "The decision was conveyed to Unesco prior to preparation of documents which listed all nominations that would have been reviewed next month.''
The remaining 38 nominations will be examined for world heritage inscription in Bonn, Germany between June 28 and July 8. Sources said Delhi's nomination was withdrawn over concerns that a heritage tag would come in the way of urban development. Last year, the urban development ministry wrote to the Delhi government questioning the proposal to get Lutyens' Bungalow Zone and Shahjahanabad listed as a World Heritage City.
Although the Delhi government had maintained that the nomination would go through as planned, sources said the Centre had strong doubts. "It's a shame if the nomination was withdrawn because of baseless fears about its impact on Delhi. The tag would not have stalled development but required planned development in heritage zones. Delhi's being a world heritage city would have been a matter of immense pride for every citizen,'' said a heritage expert.
Delhi's tentative nomination for 'Imperial Cities of Delhi' was submitted to Unesco in January 2012 and the final dossier was submitted last year. This was followed by a visit from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) last October to assess the nomination.
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