Kerala had put forth a model for other States by initiating steps to protect ecologically fragile land, A.J.T. Johnsingh, former Dean, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, has said.

Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Save Nelliampathy Campaign’ launched by various environmental organisations in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, Mr. Johnsingh said Kerala’s passion for conservation of nature was, in fact, a model for the rest of the country. The government was moving in the right direction and with people’s support, should be able to take over encroached lands, particularly the Nelliampathy estates in the Nemmara division.

Western Ghats

Such steps were essential for the protection of the Western Ghats. The primary function of such forests was to help rainfall, for which water conservation through protection of the forests was essential. The government should have the will power to evict those who had violated laws here, he said, pointing out that illegal developers meant more roads, which, in turn, meant more destruction of the forests.

States like Tamil Nadu did not have provisions for protection of ecologically fragile land, and in Kerala, where a strong model existed in the form of the Parambikulam sanctuary, a lot more could be done to conserve the forests.

Earlier, delivering the presidential address, poet and social activist Sugathakumari said the apathy on the part of the government in bringing violators of environmental laws to book was continuing and the situation was getting worse.

From Forest officials to the public and to politicians, there was a general trend to look down upon law and to disrespect law. There were official attempts as well to push forward small-scale farmers and labourers as pawns to fight whoever raised their voice in support of the environment.

The establishment had always been against those fighting for conservation of the environment and ways have to be devised to counter this attitude.

Calling upon forest officials to raise their voice against destruction of nature, Ms. Sugathakumari said more than environmental activists discussing such issues among themselves, the issue had to be taken to people’s representatives.

Environmentalists M.K. Prasad, V.S. Vijayan, N. Badusha and others were also present at the day-long seminar, which culminated in a dharna staged before the Palayam Martyrs’ Square.