Bopaiah opposes heritage tag, seeks statehood for Kodagu

Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah triggered a controversy on Wednesday, stating that statehood should be granted to his home district Kodagu. 

He was addressing a press conference in the Vidhana Soudha, with regard to the extended budget session of the legislature commencing from Thursday. It all started when a reporter sought to know Bopaiah’s stand on the grant of Unesco’s heritage tag for the Western Ghats. 

Bopaiah, whose constituency Virajpet comes under the Western Ghats, said he totally opposed the move. 

“I will soon write to the authorities concerned condemning the move. Forest is our base, we were born there. Our ancestors have protected the forest for many years. People of Kodagu need not be taught how to protect the forest,” an agitated Bopaiah said.

As reporters sought to know why he opposed the move and said that there was also a positive side to getting the Unesco tag, Bopaiah shot back: “Give us a separate state and we will show you how to protect the forest.”

The Speaker also spoke about the paucity of forest guards and the lack of concern by successive governments in protecting forest land. To a query whether Kodavas considered Kodagu their private property, Bopaiah hit back saying, “Yes, it is our private property... I speak like this only”.  Reacting sharply to Bopaiah’s statement, KPCC president G Parameshwara said it was unfortunate that Bopaiah, who held a responsible position, had spoken in such a manner. 

“We are in a federal system. Bopaiah who holds a responsible position shouldn’t be making provocative statements, which could divide the State. Bopaiah should apologise to the people of the State. The Congress will take up the matter in the Assembly,” he said.

‘Debate necessary’

Western Ghats Task Force chairman Ananth Hegde Ashisara said the issue of declaring 10 spots in the Western Ghats as heritage sites by Unesco needed to be debated before taking any stand.

Speaking to reporters, he said advantages and disadvantages of the proposal had to be debated. 

There are many issued involved in this and they had to be thoroughly debated, he said.However, at a meeting organised on July 14 at Sagar, both the local residents and the elected representatives had opposed the proposal. The Task Force has informed about the outcome of the meeting to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, he said.

This apart, Ashisara said the Task Force would soon undertake a study on the effects of the use of Endosulfan in Bhatkal, Honnavar and Kumta taluks of Uttara Kannada district. 

The banned insecticide was used by the farmers in these places some two decades ago. Details like the number of affected people would be collected from these places and appropriate recommendations would be made to the State government, he said.

The Task Force is organising a workshop on the adverse affects of Endosulfan and solutions to them on July 21 at Bhatkal, he added.

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