Ahmedabad risks UNESCO status tag

Official says renaming city to Karnavati would be illogical

Though Gujarat’s deputy chief minister has announced the government’s readiness to rename Ahmedabad city as ‘Karnavati’, the UNESCO World Heritage City tag it has won last year may not make that possible.

In tune with the rightwing sentiments here, soon after Uttar Pradesh chief minister renamed Faizabad district as Ayodhya, Gujarat’s deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said that the Gujarat government is keen to rename Ahmedabad as ‘Karnavati’.

A few days ago, the Yogi government changed the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj. Renaming of Ahmedabad as ‘Karnavati’ had been a long pending demand of the Sangh Parivar constituents here due to the presence of an ancient Karnmukteshwar temple in the old city.

Despite the BJP-controlled Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) as well as the Gujarat Assembly passing resolutions towards that effect during the tenure of Atat Behari Vajpayee at the Centre, the city could not be renamed as ‘Karnavati’ as the then NDA partners like AIADMK and Trinamul Congress did not agree to the idea.

Though the BJP is once again in power at all three levels like the local civic body, the Assembly and the Centre, the latest hurdle to the city’s renaming attempt is its UNESCO World Heritage City tag earned last year after at least a decade’s efforts.

Ahmedabad has earned the World Heritage City status on the basis of structures and architecture built during the period when it carried the present name, said Debashish Nayak who had led the committee which prepared the framework and documents to stake the claim for the global honour.

It is logical to retain the name for which the heritage tag has been earned, Mr Nayak told The Statesman on Wednesday.

He explained that the ancient names like Ashawal and Karnavati being quoted in favour of the renaming bid were only some ‘outposts’ of the city which later became Ahmedabad where the structures were built that brought the World Heritage city tag.

There is no rule to ban renaming of the city, but the logic behind the Heritage tag should continue, reasoned Mr Nayak.

Probably realising the difficulties in renaming the city after it earned the World Heritage City tag, chief minister Vijay Rupani had himself announced in the state Assembly earlier this year that the Gujarat government has not sent any such proposal to the Centre in the last two years.

Slamming the BJP government over the issue, state unit Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi, however, said that the promise to rename Ahmedabad was just another “poll gimmick” by the ruling party. “For the BJP, issues like construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya and renaming Ahmedabad to Karnavati are simply ways to get votes of Hindus,” said Doshi.

“BJP leaders dump such issues after coming to power. They only cheated Hindus all these years,” he added.

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