A six-member Unesco team will visit the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway for five days next month to conduct a survey of the World Heritage Site.
The visit is part of formulating# a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan - a blue print on conservation, management and sustainable development of toy train.
Officials of the DHR said the team would be here from April 9 to 13 and visit different stations of the hill railway.
"A team of Unesco experts will visit the DHR for five days from April 9 to 13. We have been informed that this is a visit before work on formulating the CCMP begins. The team will visit all stations of the hill railway, including Tindharia workshop," said Narendra Mohan, the area officer of the DHR.
"This will be a field survey of the DHR to understand the landscape on which the heritage railway is, various components of the DHR and other important details about its conservation and management. The team will have three officials from the Unesco's New Delhi office and three Unesco experts from different countries. The preparation of the CCMP will take at least two years," he added.
|Darjeeling Himalayan Railway|
The master plan for the DHR will be formulated by the Unesco experts in collaboration with the Indian Railways that would provide the funds.
Unesco has said the plan should cover all aspects like institutional, legal and economic and ensure that the "Outstanding Universal Value" should be protected.
Paul Whittle, the vice-chairman of UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS), wrote an e-mail to The Telegraph about the visit.
"It is great news that work is about to start on this long-awaited DHR Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan, funded by Indian Railways and led by a UNESCO appointed panel of experts. This initial visit is the essential first step in a lengthy and wide-ranging study that will form the basis of a robust and lasting plan for the conservation and sensitive development of this World Heritage railway," he wrote.
"We know that UNESCO will be seeking input and recommendations from a wide body of local organizations and other bodies. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society will certainly be contributing to UNESCO's work," the e-mail read.
Established in 1881, the DHR was accorded the Unesco World Heritage status in 1999.
It is the second railway in the world to be given a heritage status after the Semmering Railway in Austria in 1998.