VII.9 Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India)
The Committee was informed that the implementation of the rehabilitation plan for this site, approved at the twenty-second session of the Bureau (June 1997), was progressing satisfactorily. All equipment purchased using the first instalment of US$ 75,000 approved under emergency assistance by the Bureau in June 1997, has been delivered to the site. The Committee agreed to the use of the small sum of unspent balance from the US$ 75,000 (i.e. US$ 872) by the UNESCO Office in New Delhi for a sitevisit to Manas in early 1999. Construction of range posts and staff housing to be undertaken using the second instalment of US$ 90,000, approved by the Committee as emergency assistance at its last session (Naples, 1997), has however, been delayed due to adverse climatic conditions in the area throughout 1998, but is expected to gather momentum in 1999.
The Committee noted that while security conditions in and around Manas have improved, the threat of insurgency still prevails in the State of Assam and militants often traversed the Sanctuary. Nevertheless, the Committee was informed that the Indian authorities were of the view that conditions for siteprotection and the relationship with local villagers were gradually improving. The Committee noted the fact that the Indian authorities had provided US$ 400,000 to strengthen the conservation of Manas during 1997-98 and provided an additional US$ 100,000 in 1998. Additional contributions will be considered for disbursement as soon as the funds provided so far are utilized in accordance with plans agreed upon by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi, the State Government of Assam and site management.
The Committee decided to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger and requested the Centre to continue monitoring the progress in the implementation of the rehabilitation plan for this site. Furthermore, the Committee decided to request the Director-General of UNESCO to invite the Government of Bhutan to ratify the World Heritage Convention and to consider nominating the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan for consideration by the Committee for World Heritage status. The Committee noted that this could help to strengthen the overall protection of the trans-border Manas ecosystem.