Countries are supposed to make a ‘tentative list’ of sites eligible to be a Unesco World Heritage Site every year, but Bangladesh has not done so in 20 years.
The Department of Archaeology has taken an initiative to update its tentative list, the government agency announced in a seminar held at the department premises today.
To do this, they are asking citizens to send letters to the department nominating heritage sites or antiquities they care about by February 15, 2020.
The ‘tentative list’ is an inventory of all the places a government deems to be of heritage value, and this list has to be submitted to Unesco each year.
The last time this list was updated in Bangladesh was 1999.
“The ‘tentative list’ provides a forecast of the properties that a state party may decide to submit for inscription in the next five to ten years and which may be updated at any time. It is an important step since the World Heritage Committee cannot consider a nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List unless the property has already been included on the state party's tentative list,” said a statement circulated at the seminar.
Once a site is on the list for a year, a country can then nominate it to be considered as a World Heritage Site, stated speakers.
The sites currently on Bangladesh’s tentative list are Halud Vihara, Jaggadala Vihara, Lalbagh Fort, Mahansthangarh and its surroundings and the Lalmai-Mainamati Group of monuments. At present the department itself maintains 509 sites and monuments.
Bangladesh currently hosts three World Heritage Sites, the Sundarbans, the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur and the mosque city of Bagerhat.
“Even after a site is on the ‘tentative list’ we have to prove to the World Heritage Committee that we are capable of maintaining the site. It is the responsibility of the state party to ensure that a site is well-maintained,” said Dr. Sharif Shams Imon, President, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Bangladesh.
If a site is not taken care of properly, then UNESCO can decline to include it in the list.
“If a site is on the ‘tentative list’ or is classified as a World Heritage Site, then we can make sure it stays protected,” commented the Director-General of the department of archaeology, Md Hannan Mia.