The top conservation body UNESCO has cautioned that the damage caused to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or DHR due to the protest to demand a separate Gorkhaland state may put in peril the World Heritage Site tag it earned in 1999. Two stations, Gayabari and Sonada, were torched while an arson attempt was made on Elysia Building, the headquarters of the DHR, during the strike that entered the 53rd day on Sunday.
“The DHR heritage toy train is already vulnerable given the natural environmental surrounding and landslide and other disaster threats it faces. And, now this social turmoil has added another layer of vulnerability to it,” said Moe Chiba, Section Chief and Programme Specialist for Culture at UNESCO’s New Delhi office.
“We are very worried about the DHR as after the UNESCO tag, it is a heritage symbol of outstanding universal value. And with all the damage caused to it during the strike, the World Heritage status enjoyed by it may come up for review in the next World Heritage Committee meeting in 2018,” she said.