Assam Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Ashok Singhal took to Twitter on March 14 to express his pride as four heritage water sites from Assam were recognized among the 75 Water Heritage Structures by the committee constituted by the Ministry of Jal Shakti. Singhal tweeted, "The meandering flow of our Assam’s waters carry with them our heritage & history."
According to reports, there is no provision under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, to declare a site as a "Water Heritage Site" under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). However, the Ministry of Jal Shakti constituted a Committee to identify 75 Water Heritage Structures in reference to 75 years of India's Independence.
Out of the 421 nominations received through States/UTs, Central Agencies, NGOs, and the general public, the Committee recommended 75 water heritage structures, including five from Gujarat and four from Andhra Pradesh. The "Jal-Itihas" sub-portal under India-WRIS portal showcasing the 75 WHS was launched on January 5, 2023, at the 1st All India State Ministers Conference on Water at Bhopal. At present, there is no central fund allocated or disbursed for the maintenance of these sites.
While there is no official recognition under ASI for water heritage sites, the Ministry of Jal Shakti's initiative is a step in the right direction to identify and conserve the country's water heritage. With the recognition of four heritage water sites from Assam, the state has added another feather to its cap in terms of preserving its rich cultural and natural heritage.
The meandering waters of Assam not only carry with them history and heritage but also an ecological and cultural significance that deserves recognition and conservation.
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