'We don't need Unesco tag'

Green row: Govt resistance to UN proposal draws varied responses

These words of Forest Minister C H Vijayashankar epitomise the State government’s stance against the Unesco move to brand biodiversity hotspots in the Western Ghats as heritage sites.

 “Why do we need a Unesco branding to our wealth when we know how to protect them? Why should we allow foreigners to control us indirectly,” Vijayashankar told Deccan Herald. The minister is now seeking permission from Chief Minister Yeddyurappa to write a strong letter to Union Minister for Forests Jairam Ramesh suggesting not to seek the heritage tag for the biodiversity hotspots.  

Vijayashankar said Unesco neither gave technical know-how nor monetary support to states to conserve or develop a heritage site. Also, it doesn’t formulate any rules. The Ghats have a history of thousands of years, he said.

“The importance of the forests are known. There is no need to be told by a foreign agency to conserve our wealth”, he added.

Vijayashankar said there are many rules to monitor forest wealth. “To open a school or repair a road or dig a borewell, we do not want to seek permission from Unesco. There are many agencies to take action against a state if rules are violated. We have Supreme Court, CEC, High Court, Lokayukta, the Central government etc. Moreover, the Right to Information Act is in place. So we do not need one more agency to monitor us”, he said.

Asked if the Centre’s decision would prevail over the State’s decision in this regard, the minister asserted that the State will have the final say. “We will assert our rights. Also, it should be left to us. Elected representatives are against the heritage tag,” he said. To a question whether industrial lobby is bringing pressure on the government to take such a decision, he said as long as he is the minister, he will not allow any hydro electric power projects to come up in the Ghats.

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