AMRITSAR, 16 December 2014 (Bharat Sandesh News):– Amritsar Vikas Manch(AVM) has urged the Centre government to introduce a bill in the current session of the parliament for granting heritage status to the holy city of Amritsar. AVM patron Dr.Charanjit Singh Gumtala ,in a communique to the president Sh. Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Sh. Narinder reminded that on December11, 2009 , S.Navjot Singh Sidhu then member of Lok Sabha sought the status of ‘Heritage City’ for Amritsar.At that time Mr Sidhu stated that neighbor city Lahore has been recognized as a world heritage site but Amritsar is not even heritage site in this country. He further stated that Lahore is the Number 8 city when it comes to infrastructure but Amritsar is not on 8th number. But government rejected the demand stating that there was no legal provision to do so either in India or under the UNESCO rules.
Sh. V.Narayanasamy, then minister of state in the ministry of planning and minister of state in the ministry of parliamentary affairs gave a lengthy statement in this regard. He said that there are some cities called ‘heritage cities’ by name. But, from the point of view of the legal terminology, under the Asian Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 the Government of India declared 3675 heritage sites and monuments and archaeological sites. States have also declared about 3700 and odd. Those sites and the archaeological monuments in the heritage sites are more than a hundred years old. The Act covers only those monuments and archaeological sites which are more than a hundred years old. There is no terminology called heritage city under our Act.
Going to the UNESCO, he said that there are heritage sites have been mentioned and cultural heritage has been mentioned. The terminology ‘cultural heritage’ under the UNESCO means monuments, architectural work, works on monumental sculpture and paintings, elements of structures of archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combination of features which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history and science. This is the UNESCO definition of cultural heritage sites.
In the year 2004, the Government of India took up the matter of declaring the Golden Temple as a heritage site. There were some objections raised within India and abroad. Therefore, it was not taken up further by the Government of India to UNESCO. The purpose of this Calling Attention is to declare a city as a heritage city. The concept of heritage city has not been accepted universally anywhere. He further submitted that under the UNESCO, Taj Mahal is a monument which has been universally accepted as of universal outstanding value. But Agra has not been declared as a heritage city. Take another example of Qutab Minar. It is also one of the world heritage sites. But the entire Delhi has not been declared as a heritage city. Therefore, under our law and also the UNESCO law, any city cannot be declared as a heritage city.
Mr. Gumtala requested that if there is no provision in the constitution, then necessary amendments should be done ,so that any city can be declared as heritage city, so that Amritsar can be declared as heritage city because all parties including ruling party Congress at that time supported this demand. Smt.Sushma Swaraj, Minister for foreign affairs who was the leader of opposition and Smt Harsimart Kaur Badal Union Food Processing Minister and many ruling members also supported this demand.