NEW DELHI, June 19 � India will make all-out efforts to shrug off the danger tag from the famous Manas National Park at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris by highlighting the success story of the sanctuary, which was plagued by rampant poaching and activities of rebel groups, reports PTI.
The 35th session of the World Heritage Committee began at the UNESCO headquarters today and will continue till June 29. The Manas Park, situated in Assam and a part of which extends to Bhutan, is the only world heritage site in India that has been put in the �danger� list of UNESCO.
The Indian delegation will be led by Additional Director General (Wildlife) Jagdish Kishwan and include Suresh Chand, chief wildlife warden of Assam, and Vivek Menon, executive director of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), sources said.
The team will be advocating with the 22 voting nations to remove Manas from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Committee decided to include this site in the danger list in 1992, when the park became a safe haven for militants. The damage to the sanctuary was estimated at more than USD two million.
According to it, the site�s infrastructure suffered considerable damage during 1992-93.
�Political instability seems to have led to poaching of 33 rhinos during 1989-1992. A monitoring mission jointly undertaken by the Government of India and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in January 1997 confirmed the extensive damage to the park�s infrastructure and decrease in the population of some species, particularly the one-horn rhino,� the committee said.
The Committee said that the Centre, the Assam government and the Park authorities implemented a USD 2,35 million rehabilitation plan in 1997 and is progressing satisfactorily.
�And while security conditions in and around Manas have improved, the threat of insurgency still prevails in Assam and militants often traverse the sanctuary. Nevertheless, conditions for site-protection and the relationship with local villagers appear to be improving,� it said at its previous session.
According to Menon, removal of Manas from the List of World Heritage in Danger will be a �matter of pride for all Indians and will serve as valuable encouragement� to the local people to continue working to keep this unique natural heritage secure.
�There have been a lot of positive developments in Manas since 1980s and 90s when the civil unrest caused a lot of damage. Now there is improvement in the status of several key species and health of the habitat. Moreover, there is active participation of the local people and government in conservation of Manas,� Menon told PTI.
Park officials say things have changed now. They say there is stability and Bodo leaders like Kampa Borgoyari are taking personal interest in Manas� cause. There is also strong involvement of local communities.
�Rhinos have been reintroduced, elephant and buffalo population have increased. Apart from large mammals, presence of lesser known rare species like the white-winged duck and Manipur bush quail has also been established here, in addition to the population of hispid hare,� an official said.