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Thread: Western Ghat as Unesco World Heritage Site

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    Default Western Ghat as Unesco World Heritage Site

    There is an unfortunate controversy brewing. The Western Ghats had been recommended for heritage status from UNESCO. The 10 day meet of UNESCO to decide the hertiage sites has begun. The Karnataka Government has suddenly started opposing this inclusion at the last moment. Sharing a news article from Deccan Herald.
    Sabyasachi

    Ramesh raps State for opposing Unesco tag
    Ajith Athrady, New Delhi, June 18, DHNS:

    The sudden opposition by the Karnataka Government to the recommendation seeking heritage status to the Western Ghats by Unesco has surprised the Centre.

    The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) now suspects that the state government is succumbing to pressure from vested interests.

    “The Karnataka Government’s opposition to get Unesco heritage tag to the Western Ghats is giving wide scope to suspect that it is yielding to the pressure from vested interests like forest encroachers, mining, timber smugglers and poachers,” Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday.

    Speaking to Deccan Herald, he said the MoEF had first submitted its dossier on the Western Ghats for Unesco’s heritage status in March 2006 after getting the approval from the Karnataka government.

    “ I too had written a letter to the State government on December 21, 2010, on this issue. After maintaining silence all these days, why is the State government opposing it now,” he questioned.

    With the consent from respective state governments — Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra — the Wildlife Institute of India, under the Ministry, had identified 39 sites in the Western Ghats and submitted the proposal to Unesco seeking heritage tag. Currently, Unesco is studying the issue.

    He also questioned why only Karnataka is opposing while neighbouring states, where the Western Ghats also falls, were not raising their voices. He allayed fears about the heritage tag threatening human settlements, including tribals in the Western Ghat areas. He said, “this is totally rubbish and concocted stories by vested interests people who have been looting forest wealth”.

    The minister further explained: “Getting Unesco heritage status is of iconic value and it is nothing but branding. By getting this brand, we can take more affirmative action for preserving the forest wealth.” Taking a dig at the Karnataka government, he said the State government should have “asked me to put on hold the issue for further discussion instead of making a public outcry.”

    Ramesh also said that he had received the letter written by the State government requesting deletion of the 10 identified sites in the Western Ghats that have been nominated for Unesco’s heritage status. However, the government did not cite any reason for deletion. “I am ready to address the issues raised by the state government and let them speak to me. I don’t want any confrontation with the government,” he said.

    However, he said the Centre will not allow the state to divert the forest wealth to non-forestry activities. The state government, in its letter to the MoEF said the 10 sites which were earlier identified for seeking world heritage sites—Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Padinalknad Reserve Forest, Kerti Reserve Forest (all in Talacauvery sub cluster) Kudremukh National Park, Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Someshwara Reserve Forest, Agumbe Reserved Forest and Balahalli Reserved Forest — should be deleted.

    Turning green
    * Centre surprised over sudden opposition by Karnataka government
    * Ministry of Environment and Forests has identified 39 sites in Western Ghats
    *Heritage tag is of iconic value and helps better preservation of forest wealth, asserts Minister
    * Question of human resettlement doesn’t arise as no non-forestry activity is allowed in 10 sites falling in Karnataka

    The source article can be found here: Ramesh raps State for opposing Unesco tag

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    Default Will lose Sovereignty - says Karnataka forest minister

    Sharing a report from Business Standard. The Karnataka forest minister surprisingly says that the States will lose "sovereignty" over the region.
    Sabyasachi

    'Do not need Heritage tag for Western Ghats'
    BS Reporter / New Delhi/ Dharwad June 22, 2011, 0:44 IST

    KarnatakA forest minister C H Vijayshankar said here that the Centre must respect the sentiments of the state governments regarding UNESCO’s World Heritage Site status for the Western Ghats region. Karnataka has written to the Centre opposing the World Heritage Site tag for the Western Ghats.

    Speaking to reporters in Dharwad, the minister said the tag would be detrimental to the interest of ghats as the states would lose their sovereignty over the region. The state governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra that have agreed to the Centre’s proposal without studying the pros and cons, would regret later, he said.

    He said the state government had already written to the Centre refusing permission to UNESCO to nominate 10 forests in the Talacauvery and Kudremukh regions of the Western Ghats for the World Heritage Site tag. “We are functioning in a federal structure. Hence, the Central government has to respect the sentiments of the state government.”

    The minister sought to know from those arguing in favour of getting the tag what Hampi got after it was declared the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. “Neither do we receive any funding nor technical assistance from UNESCO to preserve and conserve the ecology and wildlife of Western Ghats in case it is declared the World Heritage Site,” he said.

    But in Karnataka the situation is different. The state has roughly 22 per cent of its area under forests of which 11 per cent is the core area which falls under the Western Ghats region. If the World Heritage Site tag is given to this region it would result in an increased inflow of tourists and enhancement of commercial activities, which in turn would harm the ecology. “We need not learn how to protect environment from UNESCO or anybody else,” Vijayshankar said.

    'Do not need Heritage tag for Western Ghats'

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    Default

    It gives pains to read even . UNESCO Heritage Site not only provide focus
    on very long term ecological balance,but also brings International support for inclusive development and adds prestige to a State.Western Ghats have Second Largest number of Source Areas ( in INDIA after The Himalayas) of East and West flowing Rivers in Karnataka,Kerala, Western Maharashtra.Even Andhra, Tamil Nadu are heavily dependent on these rivers also.MANAS T.R, THE SUNDARBANS etc.are also UNESCO WORLD
    Heritage sites.None of the States where they are located have complained about encroachment on Sovereignty.GOOD SENSE will prevail.
    Last edited by Saktipada Panigrahi; 22-06-2011 at 12:51 PM. Reason: For clarity

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    Default Western Ghats sub cluster nomination in UNESCO

    Agasthyamalai Sub-Cluster (with Five Site Elements)

    The Agasthyamalai region constitutes an extensive and compact tract of forest-clad mountains, called the Ashamabu or Agasthyamalai hills, in the extreme south of the Western Ghats. Distributed from just south of the Ariankavu Pass (a minor pass at around 9° N) to the vicinity of the Mahendragiri peak near Kanyakumari, the hills span an altitudinal range from near sea level (50 m) to the highest peak, the venerated Agasthyamalai (1,868 m), after which this region is named. The region receives precipitation from both the southwest and northeast monsoons and has a very short dry season of less than 2-3 months duration. Thus, much of the area is covered in tropical moist forest vegetation, with drier forests occurring chiefly in the rain-shadow regions along the eastern foothills.

    On the eastern side, the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), the secondlargest protected area in Tamil Nadu State, spans an altitude of 50 to 1,700 m in elevation, with tropical wet evergreen forests (rainforests) occurring chiefly above 500 m. The topography is rugged with numerous perennial hill streams originating from the tropical rainforest areas on the upper slopes and that confluence to form major rivers such as the Tambiraparani, Manimuthar and Ramanadhi, which support the agricultural economy of millions in the adjoining plains. The forests of the reserve include the catchment area of the Manimuthar, Kodayar, Servalar and Karaiar dams.

    On the west, three protected areas (Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuaries) along with the Kulathupuzha and Palode Reserved Forests form an almost equally extensive and contiguous tract of forest in Kerala. The rivers Kallada, Achankoil, Vamanapuram, Karamana and Neyyar drain this region. The three wildlife sanctuaries include catchment areas upstream of three dams (Neyyar on the Neyyar river, Peppara on the Karamana river and Parappar on the Kallad river in Shendurney).

    Periyar Sub-Cluster (with Six Site Elements)

    The Periyar sub-cluster extends from north of the Ariankavu pass (at c. 9° N) over the region known as the Cardamom Hills to around Kumily in the northern boundary of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. To the south of the Periyar Tiger Reserve are the reserved forests of the Ranni, Konni and Achankovil Forest Divisions. On the eastern side, lying largely in a rain-shadow area with mostly drier forests, lie the Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary and reserved forests of the Tirunelveli Forest Division. The region spans a mostly forested tract of around 2,806 km². The region also spans an elevation range from around 100 m to over 2,000 m (2,019 m at Kottamalai) of mountainous terrain with deep valleys, and includes the drainages of the westflowing Periyar, Mullakudy and Pamba rivers. The Periyar was dammed in 1895 and the resulting reservoir, which submerged 2,600 ha of forest, was leased to the then Government of Madras for a period of 999 years. The area experiences winter temperatures of around from 15°C going up to 31°C in summer (April-May). The annual rainfall of 2,000 mm to 3,000 mm in Periyar decreases to less than 1,500 mm in the east in Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary. On the western side, two-thirds of the precipitation is received during the southwest monsoon from June to September. The areas also receive rainfall from the northeast monsoon (October-December) and from pre-monsoon showers (April-May).

    Anamalai Sub-Cluster (with Seven Site Elements)

    The Anamalai (meaning ‘elephant hills’ in Tamil) ranges are a major conservation area in the southern Western Ghats. The ranges occur just south of the Palghat gap and are linked with the Nelliampathy hills towards the west, the Palni hills toward the southeast, and the Eravikulam, High Wavy and other ranges towards the south.

    A number of protected areas span this region, including the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary (987 km²), Eravikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (97 km²), Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (90 km²), Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (274 km²) and several reserved forests. This region is also contiguous with reserved forests and protected areas further to the west and east. Thus the Anamalai hills, covers a large forested region of great significance for conservation in the Western Ghats. The Anamalai hill range is a vast expanse of undulating and rugged terrain spreading across the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The highest peak in south India, Anaimudi 2,695 m is also a part of the range. A large proportion of this range has been set aside as protected and reserved forests due to its importance as a base for natural resources and also as the watershed of many major rivers and minor streams originating from these hills.

    Grass Hills and Karian Shola National parks are located within the larger Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary (earlier known as the Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, 987 km², 10° 12' N to 10° 35' N and 76° 49' E to 77° 24' E). The altitude within the sanctuary ranges from 220 m in the foothills along the northern fringes to 2,513 m atop Tanakamalai in the Grass Hills at the southern portion of the reserve. The region is drained by perennial rivers such as the Konalar, Varagaliar, Karuneerar, Chinnar and Amaravathi. A number of reservoirs (Aliyar, Upper Aliyar, Kadamparai, Upper and Lower Nirar, Thirumurthy and Parambikulam), are at least partly within the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. The Eravikulam National Park occupies the region variously termed as the High Ranges or the Kannan Devan hills forming a contiguous stretch of mountains to the south. This 90 km² National Park contains in the surrounding landscape other key areas for conservation, including the Mankulam Range, the Mannavan Shola in Marayoor range and three recently established National Parks, all in Kerala State. It is also contiguous with the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary comprising of lower hills on the eastern rain shadow region, with typically dry forest formations. Different parts of the region experience widely varying annual rainfall, from less than 700 mm in the eastern reaches to over 4,000 mm in the higher and western reaches, mostly falling during the southwest monsoon. It enjoys a tropical to sub-tropical climate due to the effects of elevation, with temperatures between 5°C and 35°C, with occasional frost in winter in the uppermost reaches. Most of the nominated sites contain typical high altitude shola-grassland vegetation.



    Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (with Six Site Elements)

    The Nilgiri region consists of a landscape extending from the north-west of the Palghat Gap, a prominent break in the main Western Ghats ridgeline, up to the Mukurti region of the Nilgiri Plateau. This region spans a wide elevational range from around 50 m in the New Amarambalam Reserved Forest to nearly 2500 m in the Mukurti National Park. By virtue of its extremely variable aspect, rainfall regimes also vary tremendously although most of the precipitation occurs during the few months of the southwest monsoon. Pudur in the rainshadow areas of Attapadi Range receives around 800 mm annually, whereas in the Neelikal area of Silent Valley National Park, annual precipitation exceeds 5000 mm. As a direct consequence of these physiographic and climatic gradients, the vegetation in the region varies from dry Euphorbia scrub in parts of the Attapadi range, deciduous and evergreen forests in parts of Kalikavu and New Amarambalam to shola-grasslands that dominate the main Western Ghats crestline around Mukurti. This region also represents the origin of several important west- and east flowing rivers. Major tributaries of the Rivers Chaliyar, Bharathapuzha, Kuntipuzha, Bhavani and Siruvani originate in this area, which constitutes critical catchments for many irrigation and hydroelectric dams downstream. Together with the adjacent protected areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, this sub-cluster constitutes a largely secure forest complex of over 6,000 km², which is one of the globally most significant conservation areas for highly threatened species such as the Asian elephant, tiger and gaur, besides dozens of endangered species in other taxa.

    Talacauvery Sub-Cluster (with Six Site Elements)

    All site elements in the Talacauvery region are situated in Karnataka state except the Aralam Reserved Forest (RF) in Kerala state. Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary (92.65 km²) has dense evergreen and semi-evergreen vegetation, with shola-grassland in areas of higher elevation. The steep terrain of the Sanctuary has resulted in scenic waterfalls along its many mountain streams. Altitude varies from 160 to 1,712 m, the highest point being the Pushpagiri Peak in the north of the park. Temperatures range from 10-38°C, with annual rainfall exceeding 6,500 mm. Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary (181.29 km²) also consists of evergreen and semievergreen forests in the lower-lying areas with shola-grassland habitat in the higher altitudes.

    The eastern tip of the Sanctuary is adjacent to the north-western boundary of Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarahole) National Park, separated by a narrow strip of coffee plantations. The highest point in the Sanctuary is the Brahmagiri Peak on the south-eastern boundary, while elevation varies between 65 m and 1,607 m. Temperatures range from 5°-32° C, and mean annual rainfall varies from 2,500 mm to 6,000 mm. Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (105.01 km²) is located in the Kodagu (Coorg) district of Karnataka. Its forests are predominated by tropical evergreen forests. It is named after Talacauvery the origin of the Cauvery river which lies on the eastern edge of the Sanctuary. Altitudinal and temperature ranges are 64-1,659 m and 10°-35° C, respectively. Annual rainfall is above 6,500mm.

    The areas between Talacauvery and Pushpagiri sanctuaries have been excluded from the proposed area mainly due to the fragmentation and habitat degradation caused by the Mangalore-Madikeri road. There is no natural forest cover for about 2 km on either side of this road. There are some teak and rubber plantations near the road.

    Kudremukh Sub-Cluster (with Five Site Elements)

    The Kudremukh National Park, Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, and surrounding Reserved Forests of Someshwara, Agumbe and Balahalli of Karnataka state are situated centrally in the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot. Kudremukh National Park has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Western Ghats, encompassing evergreen, semi-evergreen and grasslandshola habitat characteristic of high altitude Western Ghats regions. Altitude varies from 120 to 1,892 m, the highest point being the Kudremukh Peak in the south of the Park. The Park has average temperatures ranging between 17° C and 28° C. Annual rainfall varies from 1,778 mm to 6,350 mm, with an average of 4,000 mm and a maximum recorded rainfall of 10,000 mm in 1994. The topography is mountainous with a central ridge running north-south through the Park. The Park is dotted with crystal-clear streams and picturesque waterfalls. Kudremukh National Park is flanked by coffee and tea estates on the north and east, whereas on the west, the land drops down to the Arabian Sea. In the northwest is a forest corridor that connects the Park with the Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary, named after the famous Someshwara Temple located within it, and the adjoining 105.3 km² of Reserved Forest are predominantly evergreen forests, along with semi-evergreen vegetation. These Reserved Forests are in the process of being included within the Sanctuary. Elevation ranges from 75-870 m and the temperature varies between 20° C and 30° C, with an average annual rainfall of 6,000 mm.

    Sahyadri Sub-Cluster (with Four Site Elements)

    The Western Ghats of Maharashtra, locally known as Sahyadri lie roughly between 15° 60' and 20° 75' N and between 72° 60' and 74° 40' E, covering about 52,000 km² area from Daman to Terekhol creek. The hills vary in height from 20 m to 2,000 m. As part of the Deccan Plate, this region has Gondwanaland origins. The Sahyadri sub-cluster includes the middle and upper elevation biomes of the northern Western Ghats, contain geologically and biologically unique formations.

    The windward western slopes of the region receive more than 2,500 mm of rainfall annually, particularly during south-west monsoon (June-September). Three large rivers, the Godavari, Koyna and Krishna carry the rainfall from the monsoon rains eastward into the drier Deccan Plateau. The mountain range ascends abruptly on the western side from near sea level to the crest line and descends more gradually to 500 m on the Deccan plateau. The deeply dissected terrain produces localized variations in rainfall and habitat types and creates Hotspots of endemism by limiting species distribution.

    The presence of numerous barren rocky lateritic plateaus locally called sadas is the unique feature of the Sahyadri. These plateaus possess very characteristic herbaceous ephemeral vegetation. The Kas Plateau is one of the important sadas located in Satara district, at an elevation of around 1,213 m. The rainfall received is between 2,000 and 2,500 mm annually. Of the total area of 1,792 hectares under the Kas plateau, 1,142 hectares is recorded as Government Forest.

    To the west and south of the Kas plateau, lies the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary spanning an altitudinal range of 600 m to 1, 100 m. The rivers Koyna, Kandati and Solashi, originating in the Western Ghats, span the sanctuary. It forms and protects the catchment of river Koyna and the reservoir Shiv Sagar formed by the dam on it. To the south lies, Chandoli National Park (earlier a Wildlife Sanctuary declared in 1985) located at the junction area of four districts, Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara and Ratnagiri of Western Maharashtra. It spreads along the crest of the Sahyadri Range of the Western Ghats and lies between Koyna and Radhanagari Sanctuary. It forms and protects many perennial water channels, water holes and the Vasant Sagar reservoir. The altitude of national park ranges from 589 m to 1,044 m.

    The Radhanagri Wildlife Sanctuary, the first wildlife sanctuary of Maharashtra, was notified in 1958. It lies at the southern end of the Sahyadri sub-cluster and is popularly known as ‘Bison Sanctuary as the ‘Indian Bison’ or gaur (Bos gaurus) is the flagship species of the area. It consists of the catchment area of the two major reservoirs namely Rajarshi Shahu Sagar and Laxmi Sagar in Radhanagari Taluka of Kolhapur district. Bhogavati, Dudhganga, Tulshi, Kallamma and Dirba are among some of main rivers those flows through the sanctuary area, which drain out into the River Krishna, a major river of the Deccan Peninsula. Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary contains some of the tropical evergreen forests typical of the northern Western Ghats.
    Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/2103/

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    Default No World Heritage Status for Western Ghats

    The World Heritage Committee hasn't granted World Heritage site status to Western Ghats. The World Heritage Convention to be held in Bangkok will take up the issue. In the meanwhile the controversy rages on with Prof. Madhav Gadgil who heads the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel saying that the nomination process should not have been done till the Tribal Rights act is implemented.

    Since India is expected to make another attempt after getting the report of the Madhav Gadgil led committee, the situation doesn't look encouraging. Sharing a news article courtesy Deccan Herald.
    Sabyasachi

    Paris meeting postpones decision on Unesco status
    No heritage tag for W Ghats
    Bangalore/Hubli, June 25, DHNS:

    The World Heritage Committee (WHC) has deferred its decision to accord Unesco’s heritage tag to the Western Ghats spread across four southern states, including Karnataka.

    The decision was taken at the on-going meeting of the committee in Paris. Despite stiff opposition from Karnataka against the inclusion of ten sites of Western Ghats, the Union Minis*try of Environment & Fo*rests (MoEF) had recomm*ended the Ghats for the herit*age tag. A secretary-level delegation from India lobbied hard in vain for the tag, it is learnt.

    Dr V B Mathur, Dean, Wi*ldlife Institute of India, who is attending the convention, confirmed that the Ghats had not been included in Unesco’s list this year.

    The Ghats was the lone nomination for the heritage status under the category of natural sites from India. The Ghats could not make it to the list in 2006 also when it was first nominated. The next WHC convention will be held in Bangkok. The MoEF is expected to make another attempt after Prof Madhav Gadgil, who is heading the Expert Ecology panel, submits his report on 39 sites in the Western Ghats, to the Centre. Madhav Gadgil has sought an extension of the June 30 deadline to August 31.

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IU*CN), a recommendatory body to the WHC, was keen on including Gadgil’s report while considering MoEF’s nomination.

    IUCN recommendation

    In the absence of the report, the IUCN had given a “negative recommendation” to the WHC not to consider the Ghats at the Paris convention.

    Of the 21 state parties, 12 countries are understood to have favoured the Ghats, one country deferred the nominat*i*on while others remained “neutral.”

    Mathur told Deccan Herald that India would have to get a fresh evaluation of the sites done by an IUCN technical field mission and send the forest nomination dossier to the WHC.

    Mathur and Jagadeesh Krishnaswamy from ATREE, Bangalore, were instrumental in selecting the 39 sites. Based on their report, the MoEF had nominated the Ghats.

    Asked whether the controversy over the tag in Karnataka spoiled the prospects of making it to the heritage list, Mathur replied in the negative.

    He said the draft recommendations of the IUCN and Unesco on the Ghats were submitted to the WHC much before the issue was debated in the State.

    The representative of an international non-governmental organisation did submit a request for a greater community engagement in the inscription process to be followed by all countries.

    “But, many countries complimented India on bringing in an excellent serial nomination of the Western Ghats. They were of the view that it will go a long way in ensuring natural heritage protection and participatory governance,” he said.

    Nomination process

    Prof Gadgil said he had expressed his dissatisfaction over the manner in which the process was followed in nominating the Western Ghats before the two-member International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) panel that visited India during the field consultations earlier this year.

    “The agencies concerned had not followed the procedures required for consultations to be held with the forest dwellers and locals in the Ghats. The Ghats should not be nominated for the status till the Tribal Rights Act is not implemented,” he added.

    Dr S V Venkateshaiah, Regional Director (South) of Archaeological Survey of India, said: “There are instances of some monuments getting rejected several times before getting included in the World Heritage Sites’ list.”

    Five new sites

    The World Heritage Centre has declared five sites, including Saloum Delta in Senegal, West Lake cultural landscape of Hangzhou in China, Ningaloo coast in Australia, Ogasawara Islands in Japan, and Lake system in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, as new world heritage sites.

    Source article can be found here: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/...g-w-ghats.html

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    Default

    With the Karnataka Government yet to reverse its stand on the inclusion of the Western Ghats sites in the World Heritage site list, and the deadline reported to be in December, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is now trying to allay the fears of the State Government and has written several letters including the ones by the minister herself.

    Now the MoEF ADG (Wildlife) Mr. Jagdish Kishwan has also shot off letters stating that the inclusion of the sites in the Unesco World Heritage site in no way has any legal implications in terms of its protection and management. It also states that fears of local people about the heritage tag impacting their livelihoods and lives are misplaced. On the other hand, this tag is likely to bring in more tourist inflow.

    However, Karnataka is yet to openly agree to reverse its stand taken against the inclusion in the World Heritage Site list. Hope better sense prevails.

    Sabyasachi

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