'World Heritage tag' worries citizens of Kodagu

'World Heritage tag' worries citizens of Kodagu

The project is a conspiracy of some fake environmentalists, allege localites

Though the people of the region had clue of the same right from 2003 itself, they got a clear picture of the same only when the team from UNESCO came to the region to visit the selected spots.

The main reason for the present chaos is the fact that the Government never made an attempt to explain to people the need, pros and cons of the same.

Today the people in the region who had fought against Greater Cauvery project, Bane land issue, ownership of trees and various other issues which threatened them, are now reeling under fear of losing their lands in the name of ‘World Heritage Tag’.

There are more than 25 villages in Pushpagiri, Brahmagiri and Talacauvery region which has Jamma Bane, Sagu Bane, Jamma Male, Paisari land and coffee plantations.

The Forest officials say that even after accordance of world heritage tag, status quo will be maintained in terms of nature of land and no locals will be asked to vacate, whatsoever.

The attitude of the government has planted seeds of suspicion in the minds of the people. They say that if the intentions of the government was harmless then why did it not reveal the pros and cons of the project in the beginning. “Government should have come out in open, held discussions on the same and collected opinion from the people. It never came to people and spoke about the issue,” says B R Dinesh, a planter, who adds that the team had come to the region even earlier, had a meeting with some voluntary organisations clandestinely and left. Many people allege that the project is nothing but a conspiracy of some fake environmentalists to get foreign funding.

In 2003, many environmental groups had urged the then Chief Minister S M Krishna to submit a report to the UNESCO for declaring Pushpagiri, Talacauvery and Brahmagiri region as ‘world heritage zone’. Though Greater Cauvery project was dropped, World Heritage tag came as a continuation to the same, in a different package.

No vested interest

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife division) Swaminathan said that neither is there any role of environmentalists behind it nor will the local residents be asked to vacate the land.

He says that the project will be taken up only after taking the local residents into confidence. “Even after the tag, the ownership of the land will remain with the Government of the respective country itself. UN cannot interfere into matters of local governing bodies.

If the local governing bodies fail to conserve the spots, then the UN will withdraw the heritage status,” he said.

What team says?

UNESCO representative Dr Wendy Strom from Switzerland and Brin Furzaf from Australia  said that Central government has submitted a proposal to UNESCO, seven years ago requesting for the heritage tag for nine regions in Karnataka including 39 hotspots of western ghats. “The study was started seven years ago and this is the last round of the procedure to declare the world heritage tag,” they said adding that the report will be submitted in November. They said that they will make a mention about the protest staged by the local residents, during their visit to Kodagu, in the report.

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