Addressing a press briefing at Fatorda, Vijai Sardesai informed that he has written to Mrs. Mechtild Rössler, Director, UNESCO World Heritage Center, Paris and Mr. Peter Shadie, Director, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Heritage Programme, Switzerland. Sardesai said that both the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park are part of India’s Western Ghats a UNESCO protected World Heritage center and is the world’s 8th hottest biodiversity hotspot.
This sanctuary & park along with Mhadei Wild Life Sanctuary, Netravali Wild Life Sanctuary, Cotigao Wild Life Sanctuary, Kali (Anshi-Dandeli) Tiger Reserve and adjoining protected forests of Maharashtra and Goa together which form the biggest relatively undisturbed patch of Western Ghats forests covering almost 2,200 square km, and is one of the best tiger habitats and single contiguous patch of forests in India.
The Fatorda MLA said “these three linear projects cut through the entire width of Goa’s tiger habitat, and in view of the importance of this tiger reserve for the ultimate survival of India’s national animal, none of these projects should be allowed.”
In the letter to the UNESCO and IUCN Sardesai pointed out that the biodiversity of the Mollem forest are also higher than reported values for several Indian forests, and that out of 133 species recorded, 18 species were given special status according to the Wild Life Protection Act 1972. The letter indicates that five new species have been recently discovered and three endangered species are found here, and in addition to the natural habitat of the area, the Mollem region is also home to several important Hindu temples dating back to the historic Kadamba era of Goa, and home to Goa’s iconic Dudhsagar and Tambdi Falls.
The GFP chief highlighted that studies, surveys and analysis point that the existing rail track and highway are currently under-utilized, and any expansion to the highway, or rail track would serve no development purpose. Furthermore he suggested that “the linear projects are established to increase coal transportation through Goa as private corporations have sought to expand their coal operations within the state.”
Vijai Sardesai said he wrote this letter to represent the voice of all Goans especially Goa’s your who look to Save Mollem. At the press conference Sardesai said, “this letter hopes to raise UNESCO’s and IUNC’s attention to the unconscionable decisions of the state government – that is why we have to take it to an international forum to seek intervention from the authorities designated to protect our vulnerable environment.”
Vijai Sardesai’s letter concluded firmly saying “the people’s concerns remain that the government of Goa would ignore our petition and move ahead with development of the projects at the UNESCO WHC site. Therefore, I urge you UNESCO, and IUNC, to #SaveMollem – save our environment, our biodiversity, our natural heritage and our future.”