The United Nations cultural watchdog plans to request the Russian government to protect Lake Baikal from pollution, a UNESCO official said on Wednesday.
UNESCO is concerned over the Russian government's decision to reopen the Baikal Pulp Plant located on the shores of the world's largest freshwater lake, despite large-scale public and environmental protests.
"The work of the plant in the open cycle contradicts UNESCO's Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention," said Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO Francesco Bandarin.
Representatives of the For Baikal coalition, uniting dozens of Russian public and environmental organizations, sent on Wednesday an address to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris to protect Lake Baikal.
The address, signed by 125,000 people from 52 countries, will be discussed at the session of the organization's world heritage committee, which will open next month, the official said.
"We will inform the Russian government of our opinion and hope that Russia as a conscientious state and signatory of the Convention will take measures so that Lake Baikal does not lose its world value as a result of being polluted by the plant," Bandarin said.
In mid-January, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a resolution excluding the production of pulp, paper and cardboard from the list of operations banned in protected areas around Lake Baikal, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In July, the plant, which has been testing its equipment after a year-old down time cycle, may restart industrial-scale operations, a deputy director general of the plant's managing company, Andrei Prokopov, said.
MOSCOW, June 30 (RIA Novosti)