As per the TNN report, Delhi's Lotus Temple, or the Bahai House of worship, will not be considered for a UNESCO world heritage site this year. After a series of deliberations and meetings, India National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has conveyed to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that they will not be submitting the Lotus Temple dossier for the world heritage inscription for the year 2017-18. The deadline for submissions was January 31 and INTACH officials said the dossier was not yet ready and could only be submitted next year. As per sources, the only submission likely this year is the Ramappa Temple in Telangana, for which a final nod is awaited urgently from the Ministry of Culture.
Lotus Temple's world heritage nomination was in talks to be pitched for being Delhi's fourth world heritage site for several months and the nomination dossiers have been prepared by INTACH Delhi chapter. The site is already on UNESCO's tentative list. However, problems cropped up when the Temple's caretakers, the National Assembly of the Bahais, began having some reservations of the impact of the Temple becoming a world heritage site. "Lotus Temple is a living site and is used for training and helping under privileged people. The National Assembly was concerned that if Lotus Temple becomes a world heritage site, they would not be able to add to the structure as it would become a category I structure and the whole complex would be deemed as protected heritage. The Assembly then asked INTACH to remove the Temple's name from the list of 62 buildings identified to be declared protected modern heritage, which was then subsequently done," said sources.
ASI then expressed sudden interest in nominating Lotus Temple for world heritage inscription in 2017-18. "ASI approached INTACH and asked to have them if the Lotus Temple bid could be ready by the January 31, 2017 deadline for nomination. When told that the site had been withdrawn because it was no longer being considered for protection as a modern heritage building, senior ASI officials suggested even if Lotus Temple does not have local protection, it can still be pitched for world heritage. Under UNESCO guidelines, there is no mandatory requirement for nominations to have local government protection. Talks were then initiated with the Temple's trustees who were assured that the heritage tag would not affect development work in any way. But as we are so short of time now, it has been decided to defer the submission by a year," said officials.
Experts said Lotus Temple had excellent chances of getting the tag and becoming Delhi's fourth world heritage site. "The site is being pitched for world heritage inscription under category I and promoted as a site of human creative genius. It's an extraordinary building and we are drawing comparisons to Australia's Sydney Opera House and France's Ronchamp chapel," said INTACH officials. If the site had been submitted by January, then a site inspection will happen next year in October by ICOMOS and a final decision will be made in the world heritage session in June 2018.