A river protection campaign of ‘green’ legislators got off to a splendid start from the banks of the Neyyar river on Thursday with environmentalist and social activist Medha Patkar flagging off the ‘Neyyar to Chandragiri’ journey.

In her inaugural speech, Ms. Patkar said that politicians of whichever hue would get only the votes of the people, but not their unstinted support if they did not give adequate attention to environmental issues. The activist said she differed with Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s statement that he did not have the courage to bring huge industrial projects o Kerala. People would set aside politics and wholeheartedly support industry if it was eco-friendly and established at the right place in the right manner, she said.

Ms. Patkar was all praise for the young legislators who had taken strong positions in favour of environment protection beyond the four walls of their party. This was possible only in Kerala and was a major movement for economic, political, and social progress. Apart from the economic aspects, exploitation of natural resources also amounted to corruption, she said and added that the people were keenly watching whether political parties also would follow the path taken by the lawmakers.

Speaking on the occasion, Congress MLA V.D. Satheesan urged the government to establish a River Basin Authority with statutory powers for river protection.

Neyyattinkara MLA R. Selvaraj presided over the function. Gandhian P. Gopinathan Nair read out a pledge to schoolchildren who had assembled at the venue. M.V. Sreeyams Kumar, V.T. Balaram, and T.N. Pratapan, MLAs; activist C.R. Neelakantan; poet V. Madhusoodanan Nair; Neyyattinkara municipal chairman Jayakumar; and Congress leader Neyyattinkara Sanal were among those who attended the function. The Neyyar to Chandragiri journey would organise interactive sessions involving river protection committees, social workers, environmentalists, writers, and scientists as it passes through various river basins. The organisers hope to set the stage for bringing in model legislation within a year.