UNESCO has reprimanded the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) and warned of revoking the heritage tag to the 140-year-old hill railway in West Bengal over poor upkeep, DHR officials said Monday.
In a strongly-worded letter sent to the DHR recently, UNESCO said that the Indian Railways had failed to inform it of the poor upkeep of the facilities of the heritage railway between 2017 and 2019 and waste being dumped on the its tracks, they said.
DHR officials have blamed recurring landslides through the year for the damage to the tracks of narrow gauge railway.
The landslips are the main obstacle in regular running of the DHR trains as repairing takes time, the officials said.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), which manages the DHR, has also blamed the people residing along the tracks for the presence of the waste.
"Residents of houses along the route sit on the DHR tracks and park vehicles on them obstructing the way of the trains," NFR General Manager Sanjiv Ray said.
"We follow all procedures to keep the heritage tag intact. We hold regular meetings and keep a close contact with the UNESCO authorities," he added.
UNESCO had included the 140-year old DHR in the list of World Heritage Monuments in December 1999. However, it can revoke the tag if it deems that the heritage site is not being properly maintained.
The UN body had in the past expressed concerns over the degradation of the Himalayan railway.
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