18 nations of the 21-member committee support India

The serial sites of Western Ghats will be inscribed in the World Heritage List next year.

The 36th session of the World Heritage Committee of Unesco in Bangkok will make the announcement, V.B. Mathur, Dean of the Wildlife Institute of India, told The Hindu from Paris.

Though the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) wanted the inscription to be postponed for three years at the current session being held in Paris, the Committee decided to inscribe the 39 serial sites of the Ghats next year, said Dr. Mathur, who is part of the Indian delegation canvassing for the heritage status.

Describing the development as a major step, Dr. Mathur said 18 nations of the 21-member committee supported India. The Indian delegation was also informed that there was no need for new proposals for the Ghats. The Committee has also decided not to send any new IUCN mission to India to inspect the serial sites.

The Committee banks on the technical evaluation report of the IUCN in deciding the status of the sites nominated by the countries. A two-member committee visited the serial sites last year as part of the assessment process.

It has sought additional information regarding the management of the serial sites and given directions to make the management system more effective. The Committee said it was waiting for the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the conservation and protection of the Ghats. All the information sought by the Committee would be mailed to them shortly, Dr. Mathur said.

On the biodiversity impact of some dams in the Ghats region, the Indian delegation said they were built long ago and had no major environmental impacts. The IUCN also appreciated the high biodiversity value of the Ghats sites and its universal importance, he said.

Incidentally, the committee removed Assam's Manas Wildlife Sanctuary from the ‘world heritage in danger' list after taking into account the significant improvements made for its preservation. The sanctuary was inscribed on the danger list in 1992, seven years after Unesco declared it a world heritage site.