Manas hopes to shed danger tag soon
Manas National Park is likely to shed its World Heritage Site in Danger tag after 19 years.
The glad tidings are expected towards the end of this month from Paris where the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee will meet from June 19 to 29.
This is almost a certainty, permanent representative of India to UNESCO, V.S. Oberoi, informed Jagdish Kishwan, the additional director-general of wildlife in the ministry of environment and forests, in a letter dated May 30.
“I write to inform you, on the World Heritage front, of some bit of cheering news — of the probability, in fact almost certainty — that the Manas National Park will be taken off the List of World Heritage (Site) in Danger after 19 years,” he wrote.
Oberoi says it is likely that the World Heritage Committee will at its meeting in June note that much progress has been made by Assam on corrective and restorative measures.
Available data and reports of the state government and the ministry of environment and forests state that rhinos have been reintroduced in the park and that there are indications of a steady but slow recovery of the population of tigers and their prey.
“Overall, the World Heritage Committee is likely to come to the conclusion that there is now progress in the restoration of the property’s integrity and its outstanding universal value,” Oberoi says.
He says the issues that remain, at least for the present, are implementation of the state government’s assurances that funds received from the Centre and other sources would be promptly made available to the park authorities, a monitoring mechanism for conservation would be established, the population expansion programme for rhinos and swamp deer would be continued and the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation would be shortly operationalised.
“We would require to make a statement at the Committee when this issue is discussed, on the issues listed above which essentially relate to the state government. It is the state government that needs to reassert and to take action on funding, monitoring mechanisms and on the establishment of the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation. It is possible, that some of the countries on the Committee (Sweden and Switzerland spring to my mind) may have questions that will need to be answered. Subsequent to a positive statement from our side, Manas is likely to be removed from the List of World Heritage (Site) in Danger,” Oberoi says.
The importance of getting the danger tag removed was on the Centre’s top priority list. Environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh had asked Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi to present the improvement affected in the management of Manas before a visiting mission of Unesco-India earlier this year in a forceful manner.
Ram Boojh of Unesco-India, who was a member of the monitoring mission that visited Manas in the last week of January, said the chances of the removal of the danger tag were good. “It is 65-70 per cent in favour of Manas,” he told The Telegraph.
The mission had visited several areas within Manas National Park and a part of Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan and held discussions with several stakeholders. The mission report appreciated the work done for reconstruction and improvement of the park’s infrastructure, filling up of vacant posts and the efforts to reduce felling and poaching. The mission commended the Bodoland Territorial Council for its commitment to expand Manas National Park to the west, which will be an important step towards creating conditions for conservation of wildlife.
“We have done a lot of work for the improvement of the national park and the removal of the danger tag will give us more boost,” A. Swargiary, the field director of Manas National Park, said.