No heritage tag for W Ghats

No heritage tag for W Ghats

Paris meeting postpones decision on Unesco status

No heritage tag for W Ghats

The decision was taken at the on-going meeting of the committee in Paris. Despite stiff opposition from Karnataka against the inclusion of ten sites of Western Ghats, the Union Minis­try of Environment & Fo­rests (MoEF) had recomm­ended the Ghats for the herit­age tag. A secretary-level delegation from India lobbied hard in vain for the tag, it is learnt.

Dr V B Mathur, Dean, Wi­ldlife Institute of India, who is attending the convention, confirmed that the Ghats had not been included in Unesco’s list this year.

The Ghats was the lone nomination for the heritage status under the category of natural sites from India. The Ghats could not make it to the list in 2006 also when it was first nominated. The next WHC convention will be held in Bangkok. The MoEF is expected to make another attempt after Prof Madhav Gadgil, who is heading the Expert Ecology panel, submits his report on 39 sites in the Western Ghats, to the Centre. Madhav Gadgil  has sought an extension of the June 30 deadline to August 31.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IU­CN), a recommendatory body to the WHC, was keen on including Gadgil’s report while considering MoEF’s nomination.

IUCN recommendation

In the absence of the report, the IUCN had given a “negative recommendation” to the WHC not to consider the Ghats at the Paris convention.

Of the 21 state parties, 12 countries are understood to have favoured the Ghats, one country deferred the nominat­i­on while others remained “neutral.”

Mathur told Deccan Herald that India would have to get a fresh evaluation of the sites done by an IUCN technical field mission and send the forest nomination dossier to the WHC. 

Mathur and Jagadeesh Krishnaswamy from ATREE, Bangalore, were instrumental in selecting the 39 sites. Based on their report, the MoEF had nominated the Ghats.

Asked whether the controversy over the tag in Karnataka spoiled the prospects of making it to the heritage list, Mathur replied in the negative.

He said the draft recommendations of the IUCN and Unesco on the Ghats were submitted to the WHC much before the issue was debated in the State.

The representative of an international non-governmental organisation did submit a request for a greater community engagement in the inscription process to be followed by all countries.

“But, many countries complimented India on bringing in an excellent serial nomination of the Western Ghats. They were of the view that it will go a long way in ensuring natural heritage protection and participatory governance,” he said.

Nomination process 

Prof Gadgil said he had expressed his dissatisfaction over the manner in which the process was followed in nominating the Western Ghats before the two-member International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) panel that visited India during the field consultations earlier this year.

“The agencies concerned had not followed the procedures required for consultations to be held with the forest dwellers and locals in the Ghats. The Ghats should not be nominated for the status till the Tribal Rights Act is not implemented,” he added.

Dr S V Venkateshaiah, Regional Director (South) of Archaeological Survey of India, said: “There are instances of some monuments getting rejected several times before getting included in the World Heritage Sites’ list.”

Five new sites

The World Heritage Centre  has declared five sites, including  Saloum Delta in Senegal, West Lake cultural landscape of Hangzhou in China, Ningaloo coast in Australia, Ogasawara Islands in Japan, and Lake system in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya,  as new world heritage sites.

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