'What was the govt doing for 6 years?'

'What was the govt doing for 6 years?'

Official says the objections to the UN tag were too late and will amount to nothing

As scheduled, a secretary-level delegation representing India left for Paris Saturday evening to take part in the World Heritage Committee meeting that will begin on Sunday to select the heritage sites with ‘universal value’ from across the world to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage Sites.

“The Karnataka Government has not sent any official letter registering its protest against the MoEF’s proposal seeking the World Heritage tag for the Western Ghats till Saturday. We are determined to push the Western Ghats case for the World Heritage tag as this will help us protect the bio-diversity hot-spot effectively, besi­des promoting tourism,” said a senior official from the MoEF, who is part of the Indian delegation to the Unesco convention, on condition of anonymity. Technically, the State Government’s opposition will not prevent the Centre from going ahead with the proposal.

“It is too late for the Gov­ernment to raise its objection to the issue. Because, the process for seeking World Heritage tag for the Western Ghats started almost six years ago.  The Centre has been in touch with the State Government since beginning on this matter. If the State Government had any reservations about the issue, it should have brought them to the notice of the MoEF when the Unesco’s evaluation team had visited Karnataka a year ago. What was the State government doing then?,” he said.

He attributes the intense lobby by resort owners, mining industrialists and timber smugglers’ to the State Government suddenly opposing the World Heritage tag.
Another reason likely to help the Indian delegation to push the Western Ghats case strongly in the Unesco convention is the ‘unanimous consent’ given by the other three States – Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which share the Western Ghats, for seeking the World Heritage status.

“Except Karnataka, no State has opposed the World Heritage status for the Western Ghats. A lot of resources and energy have gone into preparing the dossier to be presented before the Unesco to defend our case. The Western Ghats stands in a better position to get the World Heritage status this year,” he said. He termed as “childish” the State government’s contentions that Unesco “will take control” of the Western Ghats and forest dwellers will be forcibly evicted, once the Western Ghats are accorded the World Heritage status.

He said: “The Unesco stro­ngly opposes displacing of tribals from the forests. The Unesco’s prime concern is to protect the native tradition and culture, which are part of the heritage, besides conserving the bio-diversity. No tribal has been evicted so far from the forest areas, including Kaziranga National Park, which have been declared World Heritage Sites.”

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