The union cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to sign an agreement with UNESCO for the establishment of a Centre for World Natural Heritage Management and Training Centre for Asia-Pacific region at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun.
In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cabinet approved the proposal for signing the pact which was mooted by the environment ministry, sources said.
The Centre will provide capacity building support to countries in the region for upkeep of heritage and natural sites.
After the establishment of the centre in Dehradun, India will be uniquely placed to provide services for preparation and evaluation of proposals for new sites in Asia-Pacific region and training and capacity-building on management and monitoring of heritage sites.
This is the first time that an existing institute will be accorded recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
There are nine category-II centres related to cultural heritage and the centre at WII is the first for natural heritage.
Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.
“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.
Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.
There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.
There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.
Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.
“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.
After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.
Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.
He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”
According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.
Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.
Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.