Within a year, Kerala is witnessing its second flood, which has already created havoc in many regions, especially in the Western Ghats. The Ghats on the Kerala side has experienced more than 80 landslips in the last three days. The catastrophe has once again brought into limelight the importance of Madhav Gadgil’s report on Western Ghats, which every state has ignored.
The rejection of the Gadgil report, which clearly calls for declaring Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive and to protect the hilly tracts, has for the second time in less than a year proved to be a major error.
Despite many recommendations for the protection of the Western Ghats, Kerala had completely rejected the Madhav Gadgil report, which the environmentalists say is proving disastrous. Talking to www.indiaf.com, environmentalists and nature lovers opined that it is high time that Kerala realised the facts and implemented the Gadgil report.
On the relevance of Gadgil report in the wake of the state seeing more than 80 landslips in the last two days, environmentalist C M Joy opined that Kerala should at least start protecting Western Ghats as envisaged in the Madhav Gadgil report. Meanwhile, Ravi Chalakudy was of the opinion; “if you are not looking into Gadgil committee report even at this juncture, then you are refusing to see the truth.”
“Here we see the relevance of the report. It clearly tells us the dangers that lay ahead. But we ignored all this. The state government had rejected the report, which is proving disastrous,” Joy said.
Stating that the Western Ghats are fragile, he said that Kerala’s existence relied on the Ghats. “If this goes on, it is not far that the people who have made their homes in the hilly tracts have to descend to the plains as these tracts are not going to be the same any more. During rains, the slopes come down and in summer, there will not be water. So the people in the near future will be forced to leave the hilly tracts if this trend of destructive development goes on,” he said.
Joy also said that the government has not yet learned a lesson from the flood of last time. Noting that the government was only encouraging development that was destructive to the environment, he said that the government had recently given the nod for mining activities in assigned lands.
Noting that the disasters would only increase in the coming days, he said it was only the poor and the farmers who have to bear the tragedy and not the politicians who make policies or the land or quarry mafia.
Stating that frequent landslips in the hilly tracts was because of the changes that has come in the land use, Ravi said that Gadgil report was all about ecological restoration of the Western Ghats. “The thrust of Gadgil report was not mainly related to the issues that have to be taken up in reserve forests but was mainly related to the people living here. It was a report that talked of how people in the region could live a better life by protecting the nature,” he said. Despite this, the people living in the hilly regions were misled by some people that the report was against them
Ravi was of the opinion that the government should have started implementing the report. “The western Ghats have a thin layer of soil above the larger rocky layer down. The thin layer of soil is protected by the vegetative cover. In the name of development, we have already changed the landscape of the region. We have cut numerous roads through them and also built concrete structures. We have even given sanction for mining activities in the Western Ghats. All these have changed the landscape and the land slips and floods that we now witness is a result of all these activities,” he said.
Ravi said that all the destructive activities should be stopped and restoration activities started.