Legislative assembly speaker KG Bopaiah disapproved of the Unesco tag for the Western Ghats and said he would vouch for carving out Kodagu as a separate state to preserve its green heritage.
Responding to presspersons’ questions on Wednesday regarding the World Heritage Site tag accorded to the Western Ghats , Bopaiah got miffed and said he hails from Kodagu and thus knows better about the issues concerning the region. He stressed that the heritage site tag was not needed as it would not have any positive impact on the region.
“We need not learn lessons from outsiders regarding protection of our forests. If we are given a separate state, we will show how well forests can be protected,” he said.
The speaker pointed out that the state government had deputed only three forest officers for the entire region. He said now the strength is five—which is still less—but the people of Kodagu have managed to save forests in the region. He said he would write to the Centre, explaining the futility of Unesco’s tag.
When he was asked about the resignation of BJP MLA from Kundapur, Haladi Srinivasa Shetty, he said he would answer such questions on the floor of the house rather than in a press conference.
The Congress reacted strongly to Bopaiah’s statement about carving out Kodagu as a state. President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, G Parameshwar, said it was unfortunate that a person of Bopaiah’s stature had made a divisive comment.
“We condemn his statement. Such statements will strengthen the cry for a separate state of Kodagu,” he said, adding that the Congress would take up the issue in the legislature session. Opposition leader in legislative assembly, Siddaramaiah, too dubbed the speaker’s remark as unfortunate.
Later in the day, Bopaiah clarified his stance and said he had not made any divisive statement while talking about preservation of forests.