Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Kanchenjunga among four sites in running for Unesco honour

Four sites in running for Unesco honour

Mausam Sharma
NEW DELHI, May 8: After 14 years, a natural site in India is likely to be declared a Unesco world heritage site.
The ministry of environment and forests has drawn up a tentative list of sites to be proposed to Unesco in a series of meetings scheduled to be held in New Zealand from 23 May to 1 June.

Mr Pramod Krishnan, joint director, ministry of environment and forests, told The Statesman: “A number of natural sites have been finalised to be proposed to Unesco in assistance with ASI which is a nodal agency. These are Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, Wild Ass wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, Kanchenjunga in Sikkim and the Western Ghats.”
According to the guidelines set by Unesco other than cultural sites, natural sites can also be proposed for heritage status.
The last place in India to have been accorded the status of World Natural Heritage Site was Manas in Assam in 1992.
The other acclaimed sites are Nandadevi in Uttara Khand (1988) Sunderbans in West Bengal (1985), Kaziranga in Assam (1985) and Kockladeo bird sanctuary in Rajasthan (1985).
The authorities are under pressure to gather all details to fulfil the Unesco laid criteria for natural sites.
“Every site has been selected keeping in view the criteria proposed by Unesco for natural sites and keeping in mind its uniqueness.
Namdapha has tropical and sub tropical evergreen forests. It is the only place in India to have the four cats ~ tigers, leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards. It also houses threatened mammals like red panda, musk deer etc. Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary has rare and endangered Ghudkhur better known as Indian Wild Ass, which are not found anywhere else in the world,” said a ministry official.
“Kanchanjunga with its national park is the third highest peak in the world while the Western Ghats have two biosphere reserves, 13 national parks, numerous wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests,” added the official.
After being declared as World Heritage Site, a particular site holds an esteemed position on the world map.
“Apart from gaining publicity, it also becomes a great tourist attraction, but the main focus is on the financial assistance,”the official said. Here in India, the grave problem is of funds.
After being declared a heritage site, a lot of money pours in as there is international pressure to protect it,” the official said.
The Unesco meetings are scheduled to be held in Christ Church, New Zealand.