1.         Keoladeo National Park (India) (N 340)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

World Heritage Centre visit, 29 to 30 March 2005.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

Over the past six months the World Heritage Centre has received many reports about the threat facing this property as a result of river water not being released to maintain the wetland ecosystem of the national park.  The Centre took up the matter with the State Party which responded by mentioning that proposals were under consideration for supply of water from alternative sources and that they would continue to closely monitor the status of the park.

As a Centre mission was already scheduled to visit the Manas National Park, the occasion was also used to visit the Keoladeo National Park.  The mission visited the property from 29 to 30 March 2005 and a detailed mission report will be available at https://whc.unesco.org/archive/200www.unesco.org/5. The mission noted that conservation issues at this wetland property had been adversely affected by a recent decision of the State Government of Rajasthan not to release any water from the Panchana Dam on the River Gambhir about 90 km upstream of the park, which is currently the only traditional and natural source of water for the park.  The Keoladeo National Park (KNP) is an artificial wetland of 28.72 sq km which also contains grassland and woodland ecosystems.  The survival of the wetland is dependent on monsoonal rains and substantially on the timely release of water from the Ajan Bund (about 500 metres from the Southwest boundary of the Park), which in turn receives water from the River Gambhir through the Panchana Dam.  The annual requirement of water to maintain the ecological functions of the wetland is about 550 million cubic feet (mcft), while the minimum requirement is reportedly about 350 mcft.  Over the last 15 years, an average about 330 mcft of water has been made available annually from the Ajan Bund between July and September.  Without this water the survival of the wetland ecosystem and maintenance of the values of this property is doubtful. 

The mission was informed that during 2004-2005 only 18 mcft water was available to the KNP and already the adverse impacts were becoming visible in the form of dense growth of grass and advance of woodland species into the wetland blocks of the Park.  If no water is released during the coming monsoon months the values of this property will undoubtedly sustain considerable damage, potentially bringing into question its status as a World Heritage property.  The mission was informed about alternative plans of the State Government to meet the water requirements of the park through a drinking water pipeline scheme which is nearing completion, and subsequently by the construction of a dedicated pipeline from the Chambal River subject to availability of funds from the Central Government.  However, water from these sources is likely to be inert, being devoid of fish and other organisms which are crucial to sustaining life of the wetland ecosystem in the Keoladeo National Park.

The issue has attracted wide public and media attention in India and abroad.  The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court of India (for the purposes of monitoring and ensuring compliance of the orders of the Court on the subject matters of wildlife and forests) has also examined the Keoladeo issue after carrying out a property visit in March 2005 and has submitted a report to the Supreme Court for passing appropriate orders/directions in the matter.  The report underscores the need to release water from the Panchana Dam to the Keoladeo National Park through Ajan Bund, which is absolutely necessary for its survival.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.8

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Expresses its serious concern over the current situation at the Keoladeo National Park (KNP) resulting from inadequate release of water to maintain the wetland ecosystem of the property;

3. Considers necessary that the required quantity of water is released to the KNP from the Panchana Dam between the months of July and September 2005, and regularly each year thereafter, and that essential repairs are made to the Ghana canal, which carries water from the Ajan Dam to the Park, to avoid water losses during such transmission;

4. Requests the State Party of India to submit, not later than 1 February 2006, a comprehensive report to the World Heritage Centre on the state of conservation of the property, including in particular the steps taken to resolve the water crisis and providing information for each of the last ten years on:

a) the extent of the wetland ecosystem within the Park;

b) the species diversity and numbers of migratory birds and the resident nesting birds;

c) the number of feral cattle grazing inside the Park;

d) the number of tourists; and

e) any other information considered relevant for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).