The Western Ghats are breath-taking in their beauty. A biodiversity hotspot that is fragile and needs protection from the greed and destructiveness of human beings. And the importance of the area has been recognised by UNESCO which has added it to the list of World Heritage sites. India should rejoice that it has added one more of its crown jewels to the list of World Heritage.
Western Ghats is the first global 'cluster' of natural sites to be declared world heritage. But this is not what the Karnataka Govt. have in mind. The state says it is perfectly capable of looking after its own heritage and that the Central government should ask for the status to be withdrawn. The stand of the state government has baffled environmentalists.
As per UNESCO's recognition, 39 sites including forests, wildlife sanctuaries and natural parks have now made it to the World Heritage List. These are spread across 19 pockets in Kerala, 10 in Karnataka, six in Tamil Nadu and four pockets in Maharashtra.
The Central government has warded off pressure from UNESCO to implement the controversial Western Ghats report as a pre-condition to the 'World Heritage' tag. By keeping the Western Ghats report disentangled from the World Heritage tag, the Centre has ensured that even if it implements the report later, in complete or in parts, the strong recommendations of the expert panel do not become binding even before it processes it. The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) has recommended conservation of the western ghats keeping in view the needs, development and culture of the indigenous people residing in the same areas. Therefore, implementing WGEEP's recommendations will ensure an all round balanced development of the ecological hotspot.
Many Environmentalists believe there are lobbies at work, from the mining industry. The Kudremukh iron ore company used to mine in the region - until shut down for environmental reasons. The Western ghats region with a potential to discover unknown species and is home to many lesser known, fast-disappearing species like nasikabatrachus, which is believed to have lived with the dinosaurs 300 million years ago, we all know that mining results in loss of ecosystems ad makes these species vulnerable.
Join me and tell Minister of Environment and Forests (MoEF) Jayanti Natarajan, that you take pride in the Western Ghats given 'World Heritage' status and its ensure its utmost protection so that the ecosystem that it preserves is not lost.
The Econimist: Western Ghats World Heritage Site Tag