Ganga Action and INTACH are proposing the declaration of the Upper Ganga Region – from Gaumukh to Haridwar inclusive of the Mandakini and Alakananda Valleys – as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing this area as not just an area of local or national concern, but truly of global importance.
This area is truly worthy of being declared a World Heritage Site for a variety of reasons, such as the need to preserve and protect the aastha – or faith – Indians have in their Mother Ganga. Every day, Ganga is celebrated and Ganga Aarti is sung on Her banks, and millions of people from around the world have come to Her banks every year for millennia to seek peace, solace, and connection with the Divine. In addition, there is a need to protect the irreplaceable biodiversity of the region and the Himalayas – unparalleled throughout the world – and the unique qualities of Gangajal (the waters of Ganga), which possess the extraordinary ability to self-heal.
By declaring this stretch of the Upper Ganga region as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this area of rich natural and cultural heritage will be better protected and conserved, and will ensure that development in this area will be sustainable and in harmony with this unique and important area.
20-21 June, 2012
The meeting began with the blessings of Pujya Swamiji and Pujya Sant Balbir Singh Seechewalji. Many eminent experts also attended the meeting, including Sri Atulkumar Bhargavaji, Dr. AN Shuklaji, Dr. DS Bhargavaji, Dr. Anil Guptaji, Dr. VC Tiwariji, Dr. PS Negiji, Sri RK Acharyaji, Shri Raj Deo Singh Chandellaji and Dr. Pankaj Jainji, as well as many Ganga Action sevaks.
Shri Atul Bhargavaji gave a presentation on the process of nomination to UNESCO, including how Ganga can be nominated for the tentative list of sites up for declaration within India. Asking about the advantages and disadvantages of declaring this region as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was clarified that only sustainable activities would be able to happen at the site once it is declared.
Members discussed at length the various criteria which Ganga could be nominated under and created an action plan to move the process forward. It was decided to submit a letter to the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand to request this area’s nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and to prepare a report explaining how this area is truly a site that must be protected not just for the India but for the heritage of the world. Various organizations and experts will meet again in July to work on this report, hoping to complete the report for submission to the government by September. Click here to see more photos from this conference.