House rejects Heritage tag

House rejects Heritage tag

The Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution opposing the inclusion of ten Western Ghats sites in the Unesco World Heritage list.

Cutting across party lines, members representing Malnad and coastal constituencies, demanded that the UNion Government drop the sites from the list, as their inclusion would “hamper” development in the Ghats, leaving the local people “displaced and helpless”. The legislators felt that the Unesco Heritage tar would make existing restrictions in the Ghats more restrive.

H Halappa of the BJP, who moved a private resolution, said the State and the Centre had not taken the indigenous people confidence over the Unesco list. He said Karnataka “should not fall prey” to the “pittance” coming from the Unesco. Many MLAs from Malnad and the coastal districts supported the resolution which was passed by a voice vote.

Some MLAs hailing from Tumkur, Chitradurga and Hassan said irrigation projects such as the Yettinahole and Upper Bhadra would not materialise if the Ghats were included in the UN Heritage list.

Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwara the government was yet to receive an official communication from the Unesco. Since the efforts to bring the Ghats under the heritage list began in 2003, the state had written to the Centre twice opposing it.

“We have not been able to construct the Anegondi bridge in Hampi because of the heritage status. We do not want the same thing to happen for the Western Ghats. We will write to the Centre again and also take a delegation to the Centre to discuss the matter,” he said.

T B Jayachandra of the Congress said opposed the resolution on the ground that the State was yet to get official information on the Heritage tag.

Speaker K G Bopaiah, who hails from Kodagu, an opponent of the Heritage tag, told Jayachandra: “If you want the Unesco tag, get it for your own constituency... My district is more important to me than this chair. If I were to choose between my district and the chair, I’ll definitely choose my district. What do you know of our pain?” he said.

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