Lion Tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus) – An endangered and endemic mammal of western ghats
The Western Ghats issue has become hotter with the biodiversity hotspot being bestowed with a Unesco World Heritage Site tag. Now, with the Karnataka government declaring that it is against the move and will not sign any proposal, the issue has taken another twist.
While conservation conscious and aware citizens and conservationists have welcomed the World Heritage status, saying the “Government of India is accountable to protect” India’s 1600-km Western Ghats mountain, older than the Himalayas, certain politicians and industrialists want to continue their rape of the mountains.States are divided in their reaction to the World Heritage status to a cluster of 39 biodiversity hotspots in the Western Ghats with some welcoming it and a few others opposing the decision by the UNESCO.
Kerala, which leads with 20 sites being inscribed in the Heritage list, has welcomed the decision.
“We welcome the decision. It is our duty to protect the remaining biosphere reserves in the Western Ghats,” Kerala Forest Minister K B Ganesh Kumar has declared.
He, however, pointed out that protecting the ecologically sensitive area would be a “herculian task and huge funding is needed for the Government as there is tremendous developmental as well as population pressure on the mountains”.
In contrast, Karnataka, known for its illegal mining mafia, has said that the state was against the UNESCO declaration as it would affect development work.
In a bizarre statement, Karnataka’s Minister for Forest, CP Yogeshwar, has claimed development efforts in the area will be hit if these places were declared as World Heritage spots and people living there would face hardship.
“The Western Ghats Task Force or the state government did not send any proposal seeking the Unesco tag. The Union ministry of environment and forests has sent it. Ours is a federal set-up and the central government cannot impose anything on us. We will not sign the proposal until the guidelines are clearly discussed with the state government. The government is writing a letter to the Centre, explaining all these issues. Hopefully, they will revert to us. Let’s see what happens,”said Anantha Hegde Ashisara, the chairman of the Karnataka Western Ghats Task Force.
The Centre has apparently rejected Karnataka’s stand. Sources said Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan is of the view that the states are bound to accept the decision taken by a 21-nation panel of the World Heritage Committee as it was pushed by the Centre.
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