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Monday, July 2

Western Ghats is a World Heritage Site Now

At last Western Ghats makes it into the list of Word Heritage sites. The 21 nation panel of World Heritage committee has included Western Ghats which is already known as one of the eight hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world to the list of world heritage sites based on the recommendations of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The 160000 km2 area older than the Himalayas houses many rare plants and animals including endangered and endemic mammals like Lion-Tailed Macaque. It also turns out to be the remaining patches of already endangered Asian elephant and Tiger and at least 325 globally threatened species of organisms. The mountain chain of the Western Ghats is a decisive factor in the Indian Monsoons also, making it one of the best examples of the monsoon system in the planet.
Pythal mala, Western Ghats  Heritage Site, World  Heritage Site in Kerala
Pythal Mala which is part of Western Ghats in Kannur District of Kerala.
it is listed as an Ecologically Sensitive Area by the panel,
but tourism is eating up this place.
Photo Courtesy 

Moreover, new explorations have kept on unraveling hitherto unknown plants and animals from this area showing that its biodiversity potentialbeyond out present understanding.
However, despite the importance and winning the title, Western Ghats is still not on the priority list of the governments in India. According to IUCN, the title is an obvious credit to Western Ghats with its spectacular natural values but the delay was brought by government failure to do the necessary work to meet the standards of the nomination set by the convention. 

This issue can be easily understood from government approach to the recent Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel report submitted by its chairman Dr. Madhav Gadgil. The committee itself was constituted as part of meeting the requirements of the nominations for World Heritage site tagging nomination, but when the report was completed the state found that it is full of bitter truths which kept it from putting it in public domain.
It took months of legal battle to make the report to come to the public domain and it is presently taking public comments before finalizing. 

But the initial response from the politicians and corporate powers has been torpedoing the attempts to implement the suggestion of the report since that would curtail the mining activities which are eating away the rich biodiversity of the area.

The vested interests were very visible in states like Maharashtra and Goa were the Ghats are severely threatened by the mining mafia. The committee found no support from state forest departments to get documents and facts about the biodiversity there. 

Many states have already showed their reluctance and opposition against the report which was reflected in the central stand on the report later. Let us wait and see if the World Heritage Tag actually help save Western Ghats and its biodiversity.
Have a look at World Heritage Sites in India here

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