<p>KarnatakA forest minister C H Vijayshankar said here that the Centre must respect the sentiments of the state governments regarding UNESCO’s World Heritage Site status for the Western Ghats region. Karnataka has written to the Centre opposing the World Heritage Site tag for the Western Ghats.
Speaking to reporters in Dharwad, the minister said the tag would be detrimental to the interest of ghats as the states would lose their sovereignty over the region. The state governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra that have agreed to the Centre’s proposal without studying the pros and cons, would regret later, he said.
He said the state government had already written to the Centre refusing permission to UNESCO to nominate 10 forests in the Talacauvery and Kudremukh regions of the Western Ghats for the World Heritage Site tag. “We are functioning in a federal structure. Hence, the Central government has to respect the sentiments of the state government.”
The minister sought to know from those arguing in favour of getting the tag what Hampi got after it was declared the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. “Neither do we receive any funding nor technical assistance from UNESCO to preserve and conserve the ecology and wildlife of Western Ghats in case it is declared the World Heritage Site,” he said.
But in Karnataka the situation is different. The state has roughly 22 per cent of its area under forests of which 11 per cent is the core area which falls under the Western Ghats region. If the World Heritage Site tag is given to this region it would result in an increased inflow of tourists and enhancement of commercial activities, which in turn would harm the ecology. “We need not learn how to protect environment from UNESCO or anybody else,” Vijayshankar said.