UNESCO says observatory in Bihar college not included in world heritage list

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has clarified that it has not included the 106-year-old astronomical observatory at a college in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on its list of endangered institutions, PTI reported.

In a statement through its office in India, UNESCO stated, “Following several reports the last couple of days in the Indian media suggesting that UNESCO has added the ‘106-year-old astronomical observatory’ at Langat Singh College in Muzaffarpur, Bihar on its list of endangered heritage, UNESCO’s New Delhi Office would like to clarify that no such inscription to the UNESCO list has taken place.”

The 106-year-old astronomical observatory of Langat Singh College in Muzaffarpur, was claimed to have been included in UNESCO’s list of endangered institutions. The college setup in 1899 is affiliated with Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University (BRABU). This observatory was established in the college in 1916. It was the first of its kind in eastern India, imparting comprehensive knowledge specialised in astronomy. It was fully functional till the 1970s, before gradually turning inoperable.

The statement signed by Eric Falt, director of the New Delhi UNESCO Office, explained the steps for any such listing. It mentioned, “As a first step for a site to be inscribed to the World Heritage list, the Government of India should include it in its Tentative List (which is currently not the case for this astronomical observatory)”.

“The selection criteria for sites are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage,” the statement read.

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UNESCO has its headquarter in Paris, and it works to promote art, culture, and heritage and its preservation globally. Taj Mahal, Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar, Konark Sun Temple, Ajanta Caves, Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda are some UNESCO World heritage sites in India.

A World Heritage Site is listed by UNESCO for its special cultural or physical significance. The list of World Heritage Sites is maintained by the international ‘World Heritage Programme’ and administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.