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Renewed bid for UN heritage status

With the change in political guard in Karnataka, India will make a renewed effort to enlist 39 sites in Western Ghats as world heritage site next year.

delhi Updated: Aug 02, 2011 01:58 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times

With the change in political guard in Karnataka, India will make a renewed effort to enlist 39 sites in Western Ghats a world heritage site next year.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) had in June refused to give world heritage status to these sites as the Karnataka government had withdrawn its no-objection certificate to India's richest bio-diverse region for granting the status.

The UNESCO requires no objection as granting heritage status means restrictions on lot a commercial activities including mining, which has been rampant in Western Ghats, which extends into three other states Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Of the 39 sites, 10 are in Karnataka. The state cabinet decided to withdraw the NOC on the grounds that granting heritage status will mean adverse impact on livelihood avenues of the poor living in western ghats and hamper the socio-economic growth of the region.

A week before the decision, then environment minister Jairam Ramesh had announced that western ghats will be declared a no go area for mining once its gets the status. The region is home for a large number of good quality mineral ores.

This had apparently prompted the state government to withdraw its NOC even though a team of experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had done a field verification study of the western ghats dossier submitted by India.

After chief minister BS Yeddyruppa resignation following his name in Lokayukta Santosh Hedge report, the environment ministry is hopeful of convincing the new regime to support its campaign for getting the status for western ghats.

We will renew effort so that western ghats gets heritage status by next year, a senior environment ministry official said.

The ministry officials also said that they would be briefing the new environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and will request her to pursue the issue with new Karnataka government.

India's campaign for western ghats had received a massive support from international community at a recent UNESCO meeting in Paris.

Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Cambodia, China, Jordan, Nigeria, Russia and South Africa had supported India's bid but UNESCO decided to take up the case at its next meeting in Bangkok in 2012 because of some adverse comments from IUCN.

First Published: Aug 01, 2011 21:10 IST