Published On: Mon, Aug 15th, 2016

Lotus Temple backs out of heritage site race – Times of India

NEW DELHI: In another blow to Delhi’s ambitions, the Lotus Temple’s world heritage site bid has been withdrawn. The nomination bid was halted by the temple’s trustees, National Assembly of Bahais (NAB), as there were concerns that the Unesco inscription might hurt development work in the complex, said sources.

The move came as a setback for the AAP government, which had strongly pitched for Lotus Temple as the fourth world heritage site in the city. While the NAB did not comment on the issue, sources in heritage conservation body Intach, that was preparing the nomination dossiers for the temple, also known as Bahai house of worship, confirmed that the bid would not go through.

“It has been conveyed to us in writing that the NAB doesn’t wish to go ahead with the world heritage nomination for Lotus Temple as it would affect development work. We have no option but to stop the process,” Intach convener AGK Menon said.

Sources said the decision was taken after a series of meetings with the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) over a proposal to build a meditation centre in the complex. The NAB was concerned that a world heritage inscription could lead to government interference in the temple and become an impediment to its development plans.

The decision was then conveyed to Intach. Tourism minister Kapil Mishra, who had strongly pitched for the bid, said the government would discuss the issue with the temple trustees.

“Lotus Temple is the property of the NAB and we want it to get the world heritage inscription. If there is some concern from their side, we will talk to them and try to resolve it,” the minister said. He, however, added that “ultimately it is the decision of the NAB; if it chooses not to go ahead with the world heritage bid, we cannot do anything”.

The NAB had moved a proposal with DUAC last month for some construction work within the complex. “They wanted to build a meditation centre in the temple complex and came to us with a proposal. But we could not accept it, as we felt it would interfere with the composition of the complex,” said DUAC chairperson professor PSN Rao.

“We wanted them to change the proposal and move the meditation centre away from the complex so that it doesn’t disturb the overall composition. We also suggested that the centre be partially underground and camouflaged with plantation and earth mounds. The temple trustees have now come up with a new proposal and revised drawings,” he said.

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