Gaya, April 25: The delisting axe will not fall on Mahabodhi Temple in the near future.
Setting at rest speculation on the removal of the temple from the list of world heritage sites over non-fulfilment of commitments made by the Bihar and Union governments, Unesco programme specialist Junko Okahashi said there is no such proposal as of now.
Talking to The Telegraph at Bodh Gaya yesterday, Okahashi said her visit was aimed at establishing coordination among the different agencies responsible for management and maintenance of the shrine. The Unesco only played an advisory role, while the actual work had to be done by the agencies.
Asked if she was satisfied with the execution of the Unesco guidelines, including a ban on new constructions in the buffer zone around the temple premises, regulation of future constructions up to a radius of 2 km and measures to check pollution and other hazards, the Unesco official evaded a direct response and only said the agencies concerned were expected to do their job in a sincere manner.
Mahabodhi Temple, it may be recalled, was included on the list of world heritage sites in June 2002 following an undertaking, given by the Union and state governments, to comply with the guidelines on the preservation and maintenance of the monument.
Okahashi and a host of senior officials participated in a recent review meeting held at Bodh Gaya. Unesco technical expert Herb Stovel, director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India C. Babu Rajeev, chief town planner of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (Hudco), R.K. Safaya, state culture secretary S.K. Singh, tourism secretary R.S. Tiwari, Magadh division commissioner Shakti Kumar Negi and district magistrate Chaitanya Prasad, among others, participated in the meet.
The Hudco officials presented the outline of the site management plan and the composite Bodh Gaya masterplan. Both the documents incorporated the Unesco guidelines.
Meanwhile, a bandh was observed in Bodh Gaya to protest against the provisions of the proposed masterplan, imposing restrictions on construction activities and the apprehension of eviction and displacement after its execution.
Speaking on the issue, Okahashi said the people of Bodh Gaya must develop a sense of belonging to the rich cultural heritage of the place and cooperate in the preservation and maintenance of the world heritage site.
DM Prasad has made it clear that the apprehensions regarding the demolition of existing buildings and displacement of people were unfounded. He assured that public opinion would be invited before the publication of the Bodh Gaya masterplan.