Union govt coaxing State on heritage tag
Western Ghats Natural Management Committee holds meet in B’lore
Having been snubbed by the State government, not once, but twice, the Ministry of Environment and Forests is making all efforts to try and coax Karnataka to extend its “cooperation and support” to the Centre to recommend inclusion of 39 sites in the Western Ghats in Unesco’s World Heritage List.
The MoEF, which usually holds its meetings in New Delhi, for the first time held the Western Ghats Natural Management Committee meeting in Bangalore on Thursday, in an attempt to permeate through the State bureaucracy, especially after Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda did not respond to Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan’s letter dated September 6.
Her predecessor (Jairam Ramesh) too had written to then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa on June 20 - only to be cold-shouldered.
Jagadish Kishwan, Additional Director General of Forests (Wildlife), MoEF, who chaired the meeting, told Deccan Herald that after tapping into the Forest department officials, MoEF would make efforts to arrange for a dialogue between the State Forest Minister and Jayanthi Natarajan.
“The reason for Karnataka’s strong reaction must be the lack of information. Efforts were made by Union ministers to communicate with the State ministers, which unfortunately did not yield any positive results. The objective of holding the meeting in Bangalore is to address this issue at the bureaucratic level first. The idea is to create a platform for the State and Union ministers to hold a dialogue in the days to come,” said Kishwan.
He said Karnataka’s apprehensions about additional restrictions were unfounded, and that efforts would be made to “convince Karnataka to extend its support. We want to clear all the doubts that Karnataka has. The meeting was only with the forest department officials,” he said.
Apart from the top forest department officials, chief wildlife wardens of Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Advisor to MoEF and Member Secretary, Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, Dr G V Subrahmanyam, representatives of ATREE, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, and Director, Wildlife Institute of India, Dr V B Mathur, were present at the meeting.
Jayanthi Natarajan, in her letter to Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda on September 6, had sought the State’s co-operation.
“Globally, the World Heritage designation of a site is considered to be of great conservation significance and of iconic value, besides bringing credit and pride to the State and nation. Unesco will not impose any legal regime of its own when the site gets included in the World Heritage List. The local and tribal communities living in and around these 39 serial sites will not be affected by this designation,” she stated.
When Jairam Ramesh was forest minister, he had written a similar letter to Yeddyurappa.
Ramesh, in his June 20 letter, had said: “Karnataka had actively participated in the 2005 MoEF meeting. I am completely at a loss to understand why all of a sudden only Karnataka is expressing objections and that too in a language that is unbecoming of a responsible government”.