Bid to secure world heritage status for Edakkal Caves
By Express News Service - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
24th July 2012 01:02 PM
An impoverished Department of Archaeology, which do not have a full-time Director and has its top posts lying vacant, has embarked on an ambitious project - to place Edakkal rock caves in the World Heritage Site List. The department will make all attempts to collect the data regarding various aspects of the cave engravings or petroglyph like its Archaeology, epigraphy and conservation aspects.
The endeavour was kicked off by the department on Monday by organising the first of a series of deliberations planned in this regard at Vailoppily Samskriti Bhavan. Eminent historians including, M G S Narayanan, Director General of Centre for Heritage Studies and M R Raghava Warrier, epigraphist and historian, participated in the function.
Edakkal caves could acquire a place for the state in the prestigious list, felt historians who pointed out the need to either strengthen the department or appoint a nodal agency to make a bid to find a place for the cave shelters in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Delivering the presidential address, MGS pointed out that with the sorry state of affairs that the department was in, it could not be expected to take up such a Herculean task. MGS explained the importance of the rock engravings in Edakkal and said that it was the geographical peculiarities of the rock shelter that makes it unique.
Inaugurating the seminar, Minister for Cultural Affairs K C Joseph said that the government had identified many personalities to head the department but could not bring them to the post.
It is because the government wants an able person at the helm and that is the cause for delay, he said. Minister said that the efforts on the part of the state to bag classical status to Malayalam had suffered a setback since there were dearth of evidence to prove its age.what is needed is not curative conservation but preventive conservation at Edakkal since a mistake in conservation on the side of the department had resulted in the damage of a motif on the cave once, said Raghava Warrier.
According to Dr M Nambirajan, Superintending Archeologist at ASI, the cave shelter had to make an entry into the tentative list of the nation before it could enter the tentative list of the UNESCO. There are already 100 names in the tentative list and even if Edakkal makes it to the list, it will be 101st. There is the declared list and the tentative list and in the former, 19 cultural sites from India has made it into the list. But in the past many couple of years, India has not updated its tentative list which should supposedly be an annual exercise.
The process of making to the list takes at least five years and sometimes even a decade and so it requires consistent, sustained efforts on the part of the state to see to it that the attempts are retained even when there is a change in government, participants said.
S Raimon, Executive Director of Keralam Museum, historian M G Sasibhushan, Dr Ajithkumar of Kerala University, P Rajendran Archeologist and many other experts turned up.
Archaeology Director-in-charge J Rejikumar said that there was a seminar hosted by UNESCO in Chennai in August before which the department would collect maximum details to present its arguments to gain the prestigious rank for Edakkal.
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