Guwahati| UNSECO has agreed to develop a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) incorporating all aspects of heritage conservation as well as maintain Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) as an operational railway.
A Fund-in-Trust agreement between Indian Railways and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was signed at Darjeeling yesterday.
The signing of Fund-in-Trust (FIT) is the preliminary step for realisation of the conservation plan. Under the FIT agreement, Indian Railway will pay 533,332 USD in Indian Rupees to UNESCO for assisting the Ministry of Railways, in facilitating the preparatory stage of the development of a CCMP and establishing the framework for an effective management system.
It may be mentioned that Darjeeling Himalayan Railway had been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 2, 1999 following an appeal by Indian Railways. It was the second railway in Asia to be inscribed as World Heritage Site. Nilgiri Mountain Railway in 2005 and Kalka Shimla Railway in 2008 were also declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Together with Darjeeling Himalayan Railway these are called UNESCO’s 'Mountain Railways of India World Heritage Site’.
However, DHR is recognized as World Heritage not only for its physical heritage assets including the locomotives and rolling stocks, but also for its integration into the surrounding environment consisting of diverse socio-cultural milieu and the economy of the region. Conserving heritage assets and at the same time keeping it operational calls for added efforts. It is not easy to conserve and maintain a heritage like DHR having diverse stakeholders embedded in the environment without a proper conservation plan, said NF Railway officials.
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