Party in favour of Gadgil report
The hullabaloo over the Kasturirangan report and Western Ghats protection seemed to have subsided noticeably by the pre-election issuance of a draft notification by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on the demarcation of ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) mentioned in the report.
However, the result of the Lok Sabha elections, which has given an unambiguous mandate to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — the State unit of which had taken a clear stand in favour of implementing the Gadgil Committee Report even when the Left and the United Democratic Front (UDF) opposed it — has left environmental activists and environment protection groups upbeat about the increased prospects of a possible implementation of the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), also known as the Gadgil Committee after its chairman Madhav Gadgil.
The Pashchima Ghatta Samarakshana Ekopana Samithi, which termed the new political situation “favourable” and “giving hope” as far as the Gadgil committee report was concerned, is preparing a detailed letter to the new Prime Minister urging him to implement the report after “discussing it with the respective local bodies” in the notified area.
“We are working on the content of the letter in consultation with experts, including the former chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board V.S. Vijayan, and it will be sent to the Prime Minister in the first week of June,” said A. Achyuthan, noted environmentalist and chairman of the Samithi.
The Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP), which has been demanding the implementation of the Gadgil committee report from the beginning, is also looking at the new development with “expectation” since the BJP had made its stance clear on the issue.
The recently concluded State conference of the science movement, which has decided to launch a house-to-house campaign sensitising people to the importance of protecting the Ghats region, has also decided to bring the issue afresh to the notice of the new Central government. “We have already collected over 40,000 signatures from the public demanding the implementation of the Gadgil committee report after discussions, which will be submitted to the new Minister for Environment and Forests,” said N.K. Sasidharan Pillai, State president of the KSSP.
Paristhithi Samrakshana Samithi, another active green organisation that has been campaigning for the protection of the Western Ghats, is also “hopeful” of the BJP’s State unit pursuing the cause. However, the samithi is not quite sure of the Central unit of BJP following the case as forcefully as the party’s State unit would want to. “The election manifesto of the BJP’s central committee only had a casual mention of the cause,” said A. Sreevalsan, samithi chairman.
The Samithi, however, has decided to continue to push for the cause through a fresh campaign starting on e 5. “The attitude and position the BJP’s State unit is giving great hope,” said Mr. Sreevalsan.