remains to be protected as underwater world cultural heritage site
DELHI, JULY 13: Old shipwrecks -- like that of the Titanic -- which have been
lying buried under the sea with their precious treasure along with the submerged
city of Dwarka off the Gujarat coast, for centuries, could soon vie for the
status of an underwater world cultural heritage site.
200 experts from 84 countries, who gathered under the aegis of UNESCO in Paris
recently to examine a draft convention on the issue, unanimously agreed that
underwater cultural heritage was in urgent need of protection from destruction
structures or properties lying under water can not claim the status of cultural
heritage. The absence of any protective mechanism has left them open to
pillaging and destruction by treasure hunters and curious deep-sea divers. The
experts agreed that the definition of cultural heritage needed to be expanded in
order to protect underwater heritage as well.
submerged city of Dwarka is believed to be an important site having both
historical and cultural value for India. Legend has it that the remains -- the
wall of a city is clearly visible while the rest is yet to be discovered -- are
in fact, that of the ancient city of Dwarka mentioned in stories of Lord
Gujarat government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are currently
toying with the idea of creating a museum and an underwater viewing gallery once
the structures have been protected. After that,Dwarka could also stake the claim
for the coveted underwater world heritage status, UNESCO's South-East Asia
office here said.
agreed that salvaging operations did tend to be a free for all. Robert Grenier,
director of the International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage of the
International Council On Monuments and Sites, said that while salvage action
gave people freedom to look for things, it disregarded the aspect of preserving
British and French ships laden with precious treasure that had sunk on their way
across the Atlantic ocean during their voyages in the 18th century have been
plundered by the sea pirates for valuables. In fact, some of the ships that were
believed to be of immense historical and cultural value for future generations
have been completely stripped off all their components by pirates for their
antique value. ``With rapid advancement in technology, deep-sea diving and
gaining access to heavy articles buried with the shipwrecks has become easy and
affordable for pirates. In the absence of any effective protection, these
properties of immense historical and cultural value are being looted and
vandalised,'' an expert from Canada said.
wrecks at Louisberg Park in Nova Scotia off the Canadian coast are held up as a
fine example of how the under water cultural treasures can also be protected
with help of legislation and political will, much like other structures of the
same importance. The French Ministry of culture too has come out with a
comprehensive background material on the underwater cultural heritage that needs
protection. The document also cites relevant laws under which they can be
protected and how.
of the United Nations Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea, the
International Maritime Organisation, the International Seabed Authority and the
World Underwater Federation, along with UNESCO, participated in the meeting.