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Unesco panel upgrades Great Himalayan National Park to 'referral' list

SHIMLA: The World Heritage Committee ofUNESCO in its 37th session held in Phnom Penh in Combodia gave a go ahead for inscribing six hill forts of Rajasthan on the world heritage list, but put Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh in 'referral' list.

The move has, nevertheless, come as a solace for the state since it means that World Heritage Committee's advisory body has accepted GNHP'soutstanding universal value. Sources in the state wildlife department said that had 
GHNP remained in the 'deferral' list, then it would have been mandatory for them to carry out technical evaluation of the park once again before submitting the proposal next year. But with its upgradation to 'referral' list, now only the required information needs to be furnished by February-March next year so that the committee could consider the claim for world heritage site in 2014.

The 16-member team from India that attended the World Heritage Committee meeting in Phnom Penh from June 16 to June 27, had HP's two senior wildlife officials - additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF) Sanjeeva Pandey and GHNP director Ajay Srivastav - on board.

Srivastav told TOI that the UNESCO committee wants to merge Sainj and Tithan wildlife sanctuaries in GHNP. "Their basic concern is of connectivity, which we are already trying (to address) since 2010," he added. The issue of merging Tirthan and Sainj in GHNP is already pending in the Supreme Court, he added.

The committee had also desired to continue to resolve rights-based issues with respect to local communities and indigenous peoples in Tirthan and Sainj wildlife sanctuaries. The committee also pointed out to continue long term plans to progressively increase the size of the nominated property with the addition of other surrounding protected areas to form an aggregated property that potentially includes the Rupi Bhabha Wildlife Sanctuary, Pin Valley National Park, Khirganga National Park and the Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary.

Times of India (06-07-2013)