New Delhi, July 2: Unesco has declared the Western Ghats a World Heritage site, capping a six-year campaign, but another Indian nomination on the “hill forts of Rajasthan” tripped because of inadequacies in documentation.
The recognition for the ghats came despite a recommendation against their inclusion by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an advisory panel that assesses entries for special ecological zones.
The ICUN concluded that the five states through which the ghats run had no management plans and co-ordination among them to protect the swathes. It had suggested a Western Ghats Natural Heritage Conservation Authority.
The Rajasthan entry suffered as the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which vets proposals related to culture, said the list of hill forts sent by the Centre “did not fulfil the necessary criteria”.
According to sources, the ICOMOS deemed the government dossier incomplete because Jaisalmer and Jodhpur forts were not included in the list, which only mentioned the Chittorgarh, Kumbalgarh, Ranthambore, Gagron and Amber forts.
In its report to the ministry, the ICOMOS had said it “recognises the importance of the theme of Rajput military architecture for the World Heritage List
.and encourages a new nomination for a series of sites that present the whole range of the Rajput kingdom’s physiographical terrain”.
Each country can nominate two sites every year, one natural and the other cultural. Although the ICOMOS and the ICU carry out the assessments, the final decision lies with the World Heritage Committee. This panel included the Western Ghats despite the ICU’s recommendation against it.
The 1600km ghats, teeming with non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests, are one of the world’s eight “hotspots” picked for their unique biological diversity. The ghats start at the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra and run through Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala before ending close to Kanyakumari. They are home to at least 325 species of globally threatened flora, fauna, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.
Twenty other sites have been notified in the World Heritage List. These include the birthplace of Jesus, and Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia in the west African nation of Mali. Among the others were Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore and the Rice Terraces of Philippines.