Chikmagalur: It is too late now for the Government of Karnataka to regret over UNESCO’s decision to include the Western Ghat in the list of World Heritage Sites. The Centre, particularly the then Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, had recommended the pristine Western Ghat stretching from Kerala in the south to Gujarat in the north to UNESCO.
The Karnataka government and the Forest Department had expressed dissent over the inclusion of Kudremukh National Park as a World Heritage Site fearing eviction of tribals as the Union minister had said that it will be a no-go area. By the time a UNESCO study team, headed by Dr Wendis and principal conservator of forests Dr Swaminathan, visited Kodagu and Chikmagalur two years ago, it had to face the ire of locals in Kodagu.
Western Ghats Task Force Committee member Gajendra Gorasukudige expressed apprehension over the state losing its hold on the region. Dr Wendis informed Express that the declaration of Kudremukh as a heritage site will not curtail the state’s power except in the construction of major dams, which pose a threat to the ecosystem. Even tribals will not be evicted and they will not be harassed when collecting small forest produce.
The state government had expressed dissent over the inclusion of Kudremukh National Park as a world heritage site.
Then home minister V S Acharya had said that the state government should pass a resolution at the cabinet meeting citing the presence of around 59 out of total 176 revenue taluks in the state and 10 out of 39 forests, identified for sites falling under the Western Ghat and submit it to the centre.
But the delay in the submission, as the then CM B S Yeddurappa was away in Kerala, cost dear. UNESCO’s decision has received both brickbats and bouquets in the district. Mudigere MLA M P Kumaraswamy told Express that since a major part of his constituency, Kalasa and Kudremukh was covered, he will oppose the decision and urge the CM in this regard.
However, environment activist G Veeresh welcomed the decision.