As part of the monitoring process mentioned on The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) website – properties belonging on the World Heritage list and on the list of World Heritage in Danger, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are preparing reports on the state of conservation of the heritage sites that is to be examined by the World Heritage Committee.
Since 1994, more than 2,000 reports on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties have been prepared and examined. This report highlights the factors affecting the property and its outstanding universal value and proposes activities to mitigate the threats. In some cases, they also include a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation.
On the basis of these reports, the World Heritage Committee decides, in consultation with the State Party concerned, whether morel measures are required to conserve the property; whether to delete the property from the list of World Heritage in danger if the property is no longer under threat; or whether it should consider the deletion of the property from the World Heritage list.
The deletion happens only when the property has been deteriorated to the extent that it has lost those characteristics which determined its inscription on the World Heritage list.
These reports represent an exceptional and extensive documentation on various conservation issues, but it is very difficult to exploit in its current data recording. It is one of the most comprehensive monitoring systems having a global network of nearly 1,000 sites.
This database will also allow all involved to conduct comprehensive analyses of the threats affecting the properties and their evolution over time. These analyses will help identify generic threats, underlying key issues and potential trends over time, and will assist States Parties to improve the mitigation measures to better protect their properties.
A recent 2014 report on Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya states various threat to the complex such as management systems/management plan, ritual/spiritual/religious and associative uses; lack of co-ordinated and integrated management system, loss of character of the cultural landscape directly associated with the property and its outstanding universal value and, lack of protection under national legislation.
Reportedly, India”s iconic Taj Mahal is in danger of collapsing within five years if the matter of its rotting wooden foundation isn”t paid attention to.
According to an article published in the Daily Mail, campaigners believe its foundations are compromised, having become brittle over the centuries-Evidence of structural problems include cracks that appeared in the structure last year, and signs that its four minarets are tilting were highlighted. Apparently, the Taj Mahal stands on the edge of a highly-polluted river, and the foundations are rotting due to lack of water.
To add to the problem, the Archaeological Survey of India is facing an acute staff shortage in Agra. Out of the 401 posts, 123 are vacant. This comes across as a big problem in managing Taj Mahal and other properties in Agra.
“There are 265 monuments and we have just 177 attendants. Their duty is to maintain discipline inside ticketed monuments and keep an eye on people who vandalise and deface monuments. There is a need for around 60-70 attendants in the Taj Mahal alone, but only 35-40 have been deployed,” sources said to a national daily, implying that many monuments in far-off areas in the Agra district are in a state of shambles because of dearth of staff .
Ram Nath, a noted historian and a leading authority on the Taj, said to the Times of India that, “There has been an alarming increase in the human load on the fragile monument. Officially, there are around 70 lakh visitors based on ticket sales, but if you include number of children up to 15 years who are given free entry, besides officials and other such people, a total of one crore people visit the monument. This is too much for a 360-year-old structure, which was never meant to carry such a huge burden. If action is not taken, it might sink in the coming years
The state of conservation, UNESCO possess about 116 reports on 17 Indian properties, out of which 71% are cultural and 29% are natural sites .