Even as members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, including several Ministers, have opposed the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site tag for the Western Ghats, Minister for Higher Education C.T. Ravi on Wednesday said the heritage tag was required for the development of the region.

Speaking on the sidelines of a symposium on ‘The role of media in protecting environment’ organised jointly by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) and the Belgaum and Bangalore Reporters’ Guild, the Minister said there was a whispering campaign against the UNESCO tag by people for selfish gains. “The need of the hour is to create awareness among the people about the pros and cons of the tag. There are a lot of misconceptions about it and they have to be cleared,” he said. “Some people are politicising the whole issue. While some think it can be used as a good election issue, others are worried that their opponents will use the issue for their benefit,” he said. “I feel there is no need to oppose the tag. There is a strong misconception that the tag means there will not be any development there. But development does not just mean structures. The common man is not aware of the issue; we should try to create more awareness about it.”

Earlier, VTU Vice-Chancellor H. Maheshappa announced that the university had entered into an agreement with the KSPCB to set up a ‘Parisara Professional chair’ at the VTU. A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed on Wednesday. This agreement would enable the board to evolve policy and standards for environmental governance and also promote interdisciplinary research and development work, Prof. Maheshappa said.

Senior environment journalist Nagesh Hegde made a presentation on the ‘Role of media in protecting environment’.

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