'Politicians eyeing Western Ghats after looting Bellary'

Environmentalist Panduranga Hegde has said that the Karnataka government is opposing Unesco World Heritage tag to the Western Ghats because the politicians of the State have set their eyes on the forest wealth after looting the mines in Bellary.

At an interaction on the Unesco heritage status organised by the Delhi Karnataka Sangha here on Sunday, he said that of the six states where the Ghats are spread, only Karnataka has passed a resolution with the support of all the parties in the Assembly in opposing the status.

Stressing that Western Ghats was next only to the Amazon forests in its rich bio-diversity and was closely associated with the culture of the region, Hegde said any move to harm the Ghats would be an attack on human values.

“Ideally, forest should cover 66 per cent of the total land mass of a state or territory but in Karnataka, the green cover has been reduced to a mere 10 per cent,” Hegde, the founder of Appiko movement said.

Noting that only 39 per cent of the hill range, which spans across six states, has been given the heritage status, he said the tag would help save 20 (heritage) sites in Kerala, 10 in Karnataka and five each in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Hegde said the widening gap between nature and the present day youth has made it difficult to organise movements to save forests. “The save Western Ghats issue was a topic in the last polls and it will become one in next year’s Assembly elections,” he added.

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