“All the four States should come together to protect Eastern Ghats”
Greens Alliance for Conservation of Eastern Ghats (GRACE), Hyderabad, in association with SRM University, Kattankulathur, Chennai, organised a regional convention on the Eastern Ghats recently. The programme was inaugurated by the Governor of Tamil Nadu K. Rosaiah. In his address, he appreciated the efforts made by GRACE to protect Eastern Ghats which is a rich repository of biodiversity and a lifeline for many tribal communities. He emphasised that nature or the ecosystem has to be left intact for the posterity and each individual has the responsibility to preserve the system. The guest of honour, C.V. Shankar, Principal Secretary, Department of Environment and Forests, said that any development should not drain the natural resources of a nation and it has to be a sustainable one. He mentioned about the State’s plan to plant 10 crore saplings under a 600-crore project funded by Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
In his welcome address, R. Dileep Reddy, Chairman, GRACE, said Eastern Ghats is home to various tribal communities such as Chenchu, Koya, Savara, Jatapu, Konda, Dora, Gadaba, Khond, Manne Dora and Mukha Dora. He said that GRACE has planned to organise its other conventions in Tirupati, Cuddapah, and Orissa.
Environmentalist and retired Professor of Osmania University, Hyderabad, K. Purushotham Reddy, in his address, pointed out that five major factors — depletion of Ozone layer, vanishing biodiversity, spreading desertification, global warming, and threat from nuclear plants —would break havoc to the planet.
Mr. Purushotham mentioned about Jerdon’s Courser, a tiny bird which was believed to have gone extinct in 1900, was rediscovered in the Cudappah region in 1982.
He explained about the Ongole bull of Prakasham district of Andhra Pradesh which is an acclaimed bovine breed. The bull of this breed, endemic to Eastern Ghats, is sturdy and resistant to many diseases. Many countries such as the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and European countries import this breed as their bulls are susceptible to mad cow disease. There the breed is known as ‘Brahma’ variety, he added.
He cited another example of alovera, a plant predominantly found in the semi-arid regions of Eastern Ghats, which is widely used by cosmetic industries in the U.S.
“These are only a few examples where the genetic substance of our biodiversity are tapped and capitalised elsewhere. My concern is that our Government and the people have failed to recognise the treasure troves of our ecosystem.” Next he pointed out that Western Ghats has received a great deal of attention and importance from the Government when compared to Eastern Ghats. He attributed it to the awareness the people of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa had. Their concerted efforts, in bringing out the issues of Western Ghats, have yielded success, he added. He said that it is equally important to preserve the wisdom, a time-tested knowledge, possessed by the indigenous people or the tribal communities. The wisdom he referred to is the knowledge of the plants and trees, its benefits to mankind and various other aspects of their ecosystem. He compared protection of our biodiversity to a second freedom struggle.
He also pointed out that the future would be governed by principles which would insist on environment-friendly buildings, transportation, energy, agriculture, and others. In her address, K. Leela Laxma Reddy, president, Council for Green Revolution, Hyderabad, compared nature to mother and she said that they chose Tamil Nadu for this convention as a considerable range of the mountain lies in this State as well.
“Nature is divine and it has to be venerated,” said J. Bapu Reddy, Retired IAS officer and Principal Advisor, Council for Green Revolution. He said that nature’s balance is infallible and man has tampered with it to an alarming level. He pointed out that man has to curb his avaricious tendency otherwise he would be ruining himself.
He emphasised that conservation of nature is a question of a symbiotic relationship between man and the varied species of flora and fauna. In his address, Prof. B. Ravi Prasad Rao, Member, Indian Subcontinent Plant Specialist Group, IUCN, spoke about the various plants species endemic to Eastern Ghats.
Mr. Ravi Prasad said that the region harbours more than 3,700 vascular plants which include 380 species of legumes, 200 species of orchids. Grasses dominate the landscape with over 400 species. Over 40 per cent of the plant species (nearly1,400 species) have medicinal properties.
“A tiger is considered as an indicator species to determine the healthiness of the ecosystem,” said Dr. T. Thulsi Rao, Deputy Conservator of Forest (retd). He said that if the population of tiger is good then it means that there are sufficient species for tigers to prey upon. This in turn indicates that the soil is fertile, water is available, and various other favourable factors.