Unesco recommends India on river island Majuli


New Delhi : Unesco has asked India to compile a list of monasteries in Majuli, one of the largest freshwater river islands of the world in Assam, parliament was told Tuesday.

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Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni said the World Heritage Committee of Unesco, while dismissing the inscription of the river island on the 2008 World Heritage list, recommended that a complete list of the 31 surviving Sattaras, or Vaishnavite monasteries, on the island be made.

“A complete list of the 31 surviving Sattaras on the island as a preliminary to considering which Sattaras might have the potential to demonstrate outstanding universal value and allowing an International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) evaluation mission to visit the property are some of the recommendations of the World Heritage Council,” Soni told the Rajya Sabha.

Majuli, in the Brahmaputra river, with a population of 160,000 people, majority being tribals, has a rich heritage and has been the abode of Assamese Vashnavite culture with tremendous option for spiritual and eco-tourism in the northeast. The island is a bio-diversity hotspot and has rich ecology with rare breeds of flora and fauna.

In July this year, the mountain railways of India, which includes Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway and Matheran Hill Railway, made it to the World Heritage List. Majuli, however, which was also nominated by India, did not.

“The council has also recommended an appraisal of the overall river basin in which Majuli lies and the potential impact of upstream development, deforestation and building of dams, in order to ascertain whether managed retreat is the only realistic approach to the flooding and erosion process,” Soni said.

She added that at this point, it is not clear if the island will be re-nominated for the World Heritage List.