Unesco tag of no benefit to State: Forest minister

Unesco tag of no benefit to State: Forest minister

Speaking to mediapersons in Dharwad on Monday, he predicted that other state governments which have supported the Centre’s proposal to go in for  Unesco’s World Heritage Site status for the Western Ghats region will regret their decision in the near future.

“The state governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have supported the proposal without looking into the pros and cons of certain serious issues involved,” he said.

He said the State government had already written to the Centre refusing permission to Unesco to nominate 10 forests in the Talacauvery and Kudremukh regions of the Western Ghats for World Heritage Site tag.

“We are functioning in a federal structure. Hence, the Centre has to respect the sentiments of the State government,” he said.

Citing the example of Hampi, Vijayashankar questioned those supporting the heritage status as to what benefit Hampi received after the Unesco tag. “We received neither any funds nor technical assistance from Unesco.”

Situation different

Further, he said the countries which were aspiring for similar status for certain sites have more forest cover compared to India in general and Karnataka in particular.

While the US has 56 per cent of its total land under forest, it is 64 per cent in Japan. Similar is the situation in other Western countries. Hence, they are in the race for the heritage site tag to tap tourism potential. But the situation is different in Karnataka. The State has roughly 22 per cent of forest area of which 11 per cent is the core area under which the Western Ghats region falls.

World Heritage Site tag would increase flow of tourists   and increase commercial activities, which would be detrimental to the environment.

“We need not learn how to protect environment from Unesco or anybody else,” the minister said.

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