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ASI asks Bihar govt to submit Nalanda conservation plan to keep its World Heritage tag

The excavated site has stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important artworks in stucco, stone and metal

PTI Patna Published 18.10.22, 01:51 PM
Nalanda Mahavihara

Nalanda Mahavihara File image

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has asked the Bihar government to quickly submit its plan to conserve Nalanda Mahavihara in order to keep the World Heritage site status for the remains of the ancient centre of learning.

If the integrated master plan, in the making for long, and its compliance reports are not submitted to the Paris-based World Heritage Centre (WHC) within the stipulated time, Nalanda Mahavihara runs the risk of being removed from UNESCO's coveted World Heritage list, an ASI official said here.


The WHC is the coordinator within UNESCO for all matters related to World Heritage.

"The commitment about submission of the integrated master plan for the protection and preservation of the Nalanda Mahavihara made at the time of inscription of this site in UNESCO's World Heritage list must be respected," Goutami Bhattacharya, Superintending Archaeologist of ASI, Patna circle, told PTI.

"Despite repeated reminders by the ASI in recent months, the Nalanda district administration has not submitted the integrated master plan to the ASI," she claimed.

Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery, in the ancient kingdom of Magadha in modern-day Bihar. The site is located about 95 kilometres southeast of Patna. It was a centre of learning from the fifth century CE to1200 CE.

The Excavated Remains at Nalanda got inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016.

"Non-submission of the integrated master plan within the deadline may force the World Heritage Committee to take a negative view," said the ASI official.

"If the WHC takes a negative view regarding a monument, it is placed on the endangered list leading to automatic revocation of the world heritage status," Bhattacharya said.

"It will be very embarrassing for a country. To avoid such situations, I have been consistently writing letters to the district magistrate of Nalanda to submit the integrated master plan at the earliest," she said.

The WHC meeting in this regard is likely to be held in the first week of December.

Bhattacharya said she had written the last letter to the DM on this on October 17.

The same letter has also been sent to the principal secretaries of the art, culture & youth affairs and the urban development and housing departments of the state government.

Despite repeated attempts by PTI, Nalanda District Magistrate Shashank Shubhankar was not available for his comments.

Bandana Preyashi, Secretary to Art, Culture and Youth Affairs Department, also could not be reached.

One of the commitments to the World Heritage Centre in respect of excavated remains of Nalanda Mahavihara was re-routing the road connecting state highway 80 and 110 (which passes between the site and the museum). An alternate route was to be identified to regulate vehicular traffic and thereby minimise any adverse impact on the site due to pollution.

"Similarly, the congestion of the entrance gate by hawkers is a perennial problem that does not appear to have been addressed at all," said Bhattacharya.

The excavated site has stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important artworks in stucco, stone and metal.

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