In for a rude shock after UNESCO declared that certain contagious places in Western Ghats(from Gujarat to Kerala) are World Heritage Site, the political representatives in Coorg have called a bandh on July 12th to oppose its inclusion of the chosen 4 nature reserves from Coorg. In Coorg, four Wildlife Sanctuaries and 1 Reserve Forest was designated World Hertiage Site. They are:- Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctaury, Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and Padinalaknad Reserve Forest.
Madikeri MLA Appachu Ranjan & BJP District President have said that a bandh will be called on July 12th to oppose the inclusion of the four sites in Coorg, a pressure tactic for the state govt to take notice . The Karnataka Forest Minister, C.P.Yogeshwar has also opposed the tag stating that the tag will encourage Naxalism in the ghats.
Taking note of the development, the baffled environmentalists had a lot to say.
Speaking to The Hindu, Niren Jain, coordinator, Kudremukh Wildlife Foundation said that;
the attitude of the Government revealed that it had no concern to save the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats. Further adding that;that it was wrong to propagate that tribal families living in the forests would be forcibly evicted. “Gone are the days of forcible eviction,” he said. Getting the tag had nothing to do with eviction.
Dinesh Holla, coordinator, Vanya Chaarana Balaga, Mangalore, echoed the statement of Jain and said that:
some vested interests were now trying to infuse fear among the forest dwellers that they would be evicted. “I have received many phone calls from some forest dwellers who sought to know whether they will be evicted,” Mr. Holla said. He said that some vested interests who had a stake in illegal mining and quarrying and those who had built resorts in the ghats wanted the Government to oppose the tag. It was not proper on the part of the Government to oppose the tag.
Taking note of the Forest Minister’s opposition who believes that the tag will encourage Naxalism in the ghats, Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group (ESG) told IANS that:
the forest minister’s claim is desperate scaremongering to cover up what truly is a state policy of keeping these mountain ranges accessible to all sorts of destructive development.
T.V. Ramachandra, professor at the Indian Institute of Science and member of the Western Ghats Task Force told IANS that;
It appears that irrespective of political affiliations, all politicians are against the heritage tag and none of them have bothered to look up the concept.
Panduranga Hegde, a leading environmentalist in Karnataka, opined that;
the opposition is mainly from a few elected representatives from Coorg, who have vested interests in plantations and mining rather than the interest of the local people or the environment.
Rohit S. Rao, managing director, Kudremukh Wildlife Foundation, said that;
the Western Ghats was like the Great Wall of China to the people of the State. The Netravathi, Tunga and the Bhadra originated from here. Conserving the forests was the need of the hour than raising new ones. The State Government should support the tag. Adding that – it was important to ensure that the tag should not be used for promoting eco-tourism beyond certain limits. Tourism activities should not spoil the biodiversity of the ghats.