After conducting a three-day study of the biodiversity in four villages of Mangalore taluk in 2007, a team from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, wrote: “Carrying capacity of the district has to be assessed on priority before implementing any development projects in the erstwhile undivided Dakshina Kannada…”
In its nine major suggestions, the team wrote further: “The planning authorities should adopt holistic approaches, considering various components of the system rather than sectoral fragmented approaches.”
The IISc. conducted the study from November 12 to 14, 2007, in Permude, Tenka Yekkaru, Delanthabettu and Kuttethuru villages. It was aimed at understanding the ecological importance of the region, considering its proximity to the Western Ghats (30-km distance), one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. The study was conducted after the then president of the Yekkaru Gram Panchayat wrote to the IISc. on November 7, 2007, requesting mapping of biodiversity in the region. The IISc. team said: “…proposed development activities in the vicinity of the Western Ghats, the ecologically sensitive biodiversity hotspot, violates the due recognition given to wildlife and forests in the Constitution…”
The report suggested: “…considering the biological richness and ecological sensitiveness of the Western Ghats, large-scale development projects should not be planned in any part of the Western Ghats, as it is likely to impair functional capabilities of the ecosystem, namely hydrology, biodiversity and ecology…” The study recorded 187 species of plants, 59 species of butterflies, 11 of odonates, six of amphibians, three of reptiles, 55 bird species and seven mammal species in these villages. Green activists here have been urging the State Government to study the carrying capacity of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada districtsm but to no avail.
The Nagarika Seva Trust, a non-governmental organisation based at Guruyayanakere, has been demanding a study for long. Its president, K. Somnath Nayak, said, “In the context of the coastal region, the study relates to setting up of industries. It will see whether mega industries can be set up in the region without harming the natural resources, air and people. If so, how many can be set up. Is it possible to maintain the ecological balance in the coming years, without affecting people and other organisms, after setting up mega industries?”
H.C. Sharatchandra, former chairman of the KSPCB, said the Government had ordered a study of the carrying capacity of the region when H.D. Deve Gowda was the Chief Minister of the State. However, the study was never carried out.
Mr. Nayak said that a decade ago, although the State Government constituted a committee under Madhav Gadgil, a professor at IISc., to study the carrying capacity of the district, the work failed to start. J. Krishna Palemar, Minister for Environment and Ecology, said that he had directed the KSPCB to prepare the groundwork for the study. However, he could not specify as to when the study would begin.