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World Heritage tag will not affect life in Western Ghats: experts

The World Heritage List tag will not affect the flow of life in the Western Ghats, say experts.

As the country is all set to vie for the prestigious nomination of the Unesco, apprehensions were raised that the status would affect the life of people, including tribals. There were also reports that the Karnataka government would oppose the nomination on these grounds.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (had proposed the 39 serial sites of the Ghats, considered ashaving universal value, under the natural properties category to be included in the World Heritage List. The committee will meet in Paris for 10 days from June 19.

India has a strong case this time and it will argue that the sites be nominated as a world heritage site during the Paris session itself, according to Dean of the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehra Dun Vinod B. Mathur.

There were several world heritage sites in India, including the Nanda Devi, Valley of Flowers, Kaziranga and the Sundarbans National Park. Some of them were assigned the status as early as 1985. A large number of people lived in these sites and several hundreds visited them annually. However, there was no restriction on movement of people. There was also considerable tribal population in the Sundarbans and no restrictions were placed on their movements. No inhabitants were evicted following the heritage status, said Dr. Mathur.

The sites in the Ghats were either national parks, wildlife sanctuaries or tiger reserves and its management were carried out based on the management plan. The fears raised by some quarters regarding the restrictions were totally unfounded and the Unesco would have no role in the management of the sites, he said.

Nomination

A two-member expert team from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) inspected the 39 serial sites as part of the evaluation process. The nominations were made under clauses 7, 9 and 10 of the operational guidelines of the World Heritage Convention, which covered areas that were “outstanding examples, representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.”

According to the Indian nomination, the Ghats also qualified as an “outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and species of plants and animals.”

It also stated that the Ghats contained “the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.”

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 10:13:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/world-heritage-tag-will-not-affect-life-in-western-ghats-experts/article2113559.ece

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