Will Goa press for UNESCO tag?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
06 July 2012 14:05 IST

UNESCO has recognized 39 sites all along the 1600 km-long Western Ghat passing through five states as World Heritage sites. But Goa, including its four wild life sanctuaries and one national park, is not part of it. Goa government, under Congress chief minister Digambar Kamat, did not take any step in this regard. The government, now under BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar, neither feels sorry for it nor wants to identify with the major announcement. On the contrary, his counterpart in Karnataka Sadanand Gowda, again the BJP chief minister, plans to write to the centre asking for withdrawal of the tag. The reason? “Our developmental work will get affected.”

Environmentalists however feel otherwise. They have openly blamed the mining industry as well as timber lobby behind the opposition by the governments to UNESCO tag. In fact they look at the UNESCO tag as a golden opportunity for sustainable development of the western ghat region while maintaining ecological balance. The tag, they feel, would help in terms of global attention for eco-tourism as well as research oriented activity. Goa government's plan to start white water rafting in Mhadei basin is in fact a first such attempt in this direction.

In that sense, it’s a real opportunity for Goa, a tourism state. Goa’s western ghat region has five such sites – National Park at Dharbandora and wild sanctuaries of Mhadei, Mollem, Netravali and Khotigao. While 60 per cent of Goa comes under forest cover, these sanctuaries cover 34 per cent of this forest, mostly coming under dense forest category. It has over 1500 species of plants, various animal and bird species, the forest demanded to be a tiger reserve and umpteen number of sources of fresh water. The real biodiversity which the world is longing for.

In fact Parrikar’s budget speech is on the same lines. It states: “My Government firmly believes that to exploit the fullest potential of Tourism industry and translate it in increasing employment opportunities and increased levels of incomes; the time has come to diversify touristic attractions in the State. The newer areas of tourism such as development of adventure tourism, health, medical/wellness tourism, religious tourism, eco-tourism, cultural & heritage tourism, hinterland tourism, back water tourism, and such other forms of innovative tourism have to be looked at in order to have a sustainable tourism development in the State. This, I believe will attract high end tourism having longer stay in the State.”

May be except religious tourism and backwater tourism, all other forms of tourism could very well be developed with full vigour, if UNESCO had declared these five sites as world heritage sites. In fact we missed this bus since former chief minister Digambar Kamat simply did not react to several attempts made by the central government as well as the UNESCO delegation. Neither he responded to the letter sent in this regard in February last year nor his officials attended the meeting held in Bangaluru in September last year.

But it’s not too late. Goa government can still do it since the UNESCO has extended its deadline for reconsideration of more areas, till January next year. What is required is political will. With short term gains, the government can very well represent the mining barons and join hands with their party colleagues in Karnataka to oppose the UNESCO tag. But keeping in mind the long terms gains, Parrikar actually needs to press for UNESCO tag for these five sanctuaries while going ahead with his budgetary plans of alternate sustainable tourism. Though Parrikar’s first instant reaction was to dismiss the UNESCO tag stating that it’s a matter of United Nations and not his government, he can very well rethink about it, keeping in mind future of Goa and not ‘handful’ of Goans. 

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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Previous Comments

Pressing for UNESCO tag would invite curbs in Mining and this would be tooth and nail opposed by the Mining Mafia...Have the Authorities guts to go in for that?

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 08 th July 2012 17:55

 

We should seek the UNESCO tag for Goa too.

I appeal to our dynamic CM to do the needful.

- Francisco G. Lourenco, England | 08 th July 2012 15:28

 

Forget UNESCO or UN. Why should we wait untill somebody else tell us about our own resources and historical sites. Aren't we Goans/Indians matured enough to preserve our nature and biodiversity through our own efforts.

We won't act unless some 'Goras' from 'forenland' tell us to do so!

- Jagan Kamat, Canada | 08 th July 2012 01:53

 

The entire Western Ghat including the areas in Karnataka and Maharashtra should be protected as a National Park under a special legislation. No private investors, developers, or the mining mafia should be allowed to venture into an inch of the park. It should be a public property for eternity. '

The park should be professionally developed for responsible Tourism activity only.

Those who are crying hoarse over silly issues such as Ram sena, etc. should devote their energy to get legislation in place for securing and preserving this priceless piece of natural beauty.

- Jagan Kamat, Canada | 08 th July 2012 01:46

 

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