Vested interested have launched a negative campaign: scientist
Two senior biological scientists said on Friday that people of the State should support Unesco’s World Heritage Site tag to the Western Ghats to save the ghats from further destruction.
In a chat with The Hindu at Pilikula Nisargadhama here, M. Sanjappa, former Director, Botanical Survey of India, and R.R. Rao, former head, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow. and currently serving as a scientist with the Indian National Science Academy, said that only the vested interests opposed the tag. Mr. Sanjappa said many plant species would not survive if the long range of the ghats was fragmented. Like an “elephant corridor”, there was a “plant corridor”. If the “plant corridor” was broken, many species would disappear. Hence, it was important to ensure that the range was not broken. He said some vested interested had launched a “negative campaign” against the tag. Mr. Sanjappa said the ghats had been listed as one of the few biodiversity hotspots in the world not only because it had a rich biodiversity but also for the destructive activities happening there.
Mr. Sanjappa said no more major hydel power projects should be encouraged in the ghats. Many rivers took birth in the ghats. If the ghats were fragmented, the entire State would suffer.
On the proposed Yettinahole project, perceived to be leading to diversion of the Nethravati river in this region, Mr. Sanjappa said nobody in the country had properly studied the ecological changes of a river diversion project. Those who speak in favour of a river diversion project highlighted the advantages only from the point of view of economic activities. Quoting an example, he said that after water from the Sutlej was taken to the desert in Rajasthan through the Indira Gandhi Canal, Himalayan plant species had started growing in there. If people dug up land for laying foundation stones for houses, they would get water at the level itself.
Mr. Rao said that the ghats had been listed as “hottest hotspot” because a majority of original species and vegetation had disappeared from there. There were only nine “hottest hotspots” in the world. “We should support the World Heritage tag. Status quo should be maintained,” he said.
Mr. Rao said that one need not be apprehensive about eviction. It was because the tag ensured maintenance of status quo and no further development.