In 1986, Hampi was nominated as a World Heritage Site (WHS). Spanning an area of 236 km2, the site covers apart from ancient monuments, hillocks and the river Tungabadra and a number of human settlements. In the year 1999, in accordance with the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines, the constitution of a Heritage Management body as well as the elaboration of an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) were initiated; the prescribed basis of the nomination, conservation and management of any World Heritage Site. These changes have had a far reaching long term impact on the WHS, more often contrary to what was expected. While it was decided that the heritage management set-up would be realised through the establishment of the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority (referred to as the Hampi Authority here forth) to be created under the HWHAMA Act, 2002, work on the IMP was initiated around the same time. The latter includes in its mandate the safeguarding of the “Outstanding Universal Value” (OUV) of the Site, its authenticity and integrity. The UNESCO, therefore, necessarily mandates the adoption of the IMP as the international reference for protection, conservation and management. What perhaps merits attention at this point in time is that Hampi is a living heritage site thereby implying that while the preservation of the OUV, heritage conservation and tourism aspects guide the management of the site, the development needs of the local population also assume equal importance, if not more
The authority came into force in 2005 under the HWHAMA Act. Under this act an area of 236 sq km was declared as the local planning area (LPA) to be administered through the Hampi Authority. It is important to note that the local planning area designated as the Hampi World Heritage Area comprises of 28 villages and one urban area, which straddle the districts of Bellary and Koppal. One of the first tasks of the authority after the declaration of the LPA was the preparation of the Master Plan for the planning area. The master plan was approved in 2007 and prepared for the horizon year 2021. In parallel the preparation process of the IMP initiated in 2002 was (is) ongoing. Thus the WHS had two planning tools; the Draft Integrated Management Plan prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India, as mandated by the UNESCO WHS charter and the Master Plan 2021 as prepared by Hampi authority under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act 1967. While the former is focusing on how to manage the Site with a special focus on safeguarding the OUV, the regulations of the growth and development of the LPA are being determined through the Master Plan 2021, notified by the GoK in 2008. Ironically, both these planning tools at this point are ineffective and non implementable. The Master Plan needs revision, being an incomplete tool from various perspectives and while there have been discussions along these lines, so far there has not been any concrete action in this direction. The IMP on the other hand is “still in the making”. Further, it is not recognised as a statutory tool within the state regulatory framework.
Both the setting up of the HWHAMA and the rolling out of the IMP and the Master Plan 2021, howsoever dissatisfactory and incomplete the two processes have been throw up a series of issues, notable amongst these are:
First, the setting up of HWHAMA as the Local Planning Authority while representing a valid attempt to address the needs for the Hampi Master Plan to be heritage sensitive through the valid adoption and integration of the IMP, posits a set of issues in context of the decentralisation agenda (articulated through the 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA) of 1992). As per this agenda local governments like the Panchayats and the Municipalities are mandated as institutions of self-government, with powers and responsibilities that cover planning for economic and social development of the specific geography. Further the agenda mandates the setting up of the District Planning Committees (DPCs) under Article 243ZD of the constitution. The DPC’s are responsible for consolidating local plans prepared by Panchayats and Municipalities into the developmental plan for the district as a whole. In accordance with this provision, DPCs have been constituted in all districts including Koppal and Bellary District. While these DPC’s may not be functioning in their true spirit yet, organisationally and institutionally these have been established with a specific mandate. The setting up of the HWHAMA has given rise to a conflict between the roles and responsibilities of the HWHAMA on the one hand and the local and district level planning bodies as per the decentralisation agenda. It has resulted in gaps and overlaps in terms of roles and responsibilities which in turn has resulted in problems of accountability and transparency and ownership. These overlaps and gaps have already begun to threaten the site and its OUV and the recent evictions at the Hampi Bazaar are symptomatic of this. It would be prudent to say that it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Two, with both the IMP and the Master Plan 2021 positioned as legitimate planning tools, in effect, it has resulted in multiple policy frameworks, which once again allow for ambiguity and lack of accountability. What needs mention at this point is that the IMP though not a statutory document as recognised by the Government of Karnataka, yet is mandatory tool requested by the World Heritage Convetions Operational Guidelines for the better management of all World Heritage Sites. The legal recognition of the IMP, therefore is a must within the state regulatory framework and there are ways and means of achieving this.
Three, apart from the local government units and the Hampi Authority, there are a host of state and central level agencies looking after different development, tourism and heritage and conservation needs in the region. To quote an example, the ASI and the Department of Archaeology and Museum-GoK have the mandate to protect and restore monuments in the area. The Department of Tourism – GoK has the mandate to formulate the tourism policy at the State Level and stimulate tourism investment. The Department of Town Planning has the provision to regulate urban development, while the local governments shall define local plans and implement projects on the ground. The District Planning Committee shall coordinate the local plans and avoid conflicts and overlapping at the regional level. Not to mention the entire district machineries of Koppal and Bellary which too play a role in a variety of ways.
Four, while historically several state level stakeholders are looking after the myriad needs of the site, what is missing is a coordinating and regulating mechanism within these agencies and their functions to ensure a comprehensive response to the challenges faced by the site. Needless to say, agency autonomy in terms of both processes and structures and ability to function as “stovepipes”, characteristic of the Indian bureaucracy, with Hampi being no exception mandates little or no coordination between multiple agencies operating in the same geography. The need of the hour is coordination between these agency processes and actions with a simultaneous rationalisation on the need for so many agencies. An institutional structure that is inclusive and respects the legitimacy and constitutional status of the local bodies is a must. Any other mechanism, which aims to control from outside or excludes the local bodies from decision making in local planning and implementation would be inherently unsustainable as is already evident.
Five, implementing the two planning tools strategically and in their entirety will require institutional and organisational capacity building and restructuring. This needs to be facilitated. The current HWHAMA as an organisational and institutional form leaves much to be desired having little or no capacities. While several sectoral studies and sub-plans as recommended by the IMP and required for the Master Plan have been undertaken either in-house or through outsourcing (Heritage & Conservation, Sustainable Tourism Strategy, Housing, Waste Management, etc, socio-economic survey, landscape and environmental plan to name a few), most continue to exist as independent studies – without being considered as “sectoral inputs” into the planning tools, hence lack a statutory backing.
The role of HWHAMA as a coordinating and regulatory body assumes added importance, given the fact that the site straddles two districts, covered by two DPC’s and a plethora of other service and development agencies. The author of this blog in her recent work on the organisational and institutional arrangements for the management of the site as part of the tourism strategy to be prepared for the Department of Tourism, GoK has made arguments to that effect. An appropriate positioning of this body, responding to the needs of the WHS will go a long way in not just preserving the OUV of the site but also promoting development in the area.
In conclusion, revisiting the existing approach to planning and management of the Site, and finding innovative solutions to integrating heritage conservation, developmental needs and tourism pressures emerges as an imperative, through a right order or organisational structuring and public policy. Though this may appear to be a daunting challenge, it is not an impossible one, given time, resources and above all a political and bureaucratic will.
 Declared as an endangered site due to instances of violation of nomination conditions, for instance the construction of a modern motorable bridge across the river, as quoted by the UNESCO.
 Last revised version of 2008
 The IMP is yet to be seen in its final format. 7 volumes of the IMP have been handed over to the ASI, while the 8th and final volume, the implementable volume is yet to be finalized.