Report to be translated into Malayalam, published as a book

Environmentalists are planning to take the Madhav Gadgil report on Western Ghats to the people to clear the apprehensions about it as prelude to launching a State-wide campaign for its implementation.

A sustained campaign was needed for protecting the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats and it was with this aim that the Western Ghats Protection Council had been launched, environmentalist John Peruvanthanam told The Hindu on Monday. He said that non-governmental organisations, farmers, social activists and people’s representatives were associating with the council and what was needed was a long-term plan to protect the Western Ghats.

A State-level convention would be held at Thodupuzha on December 29 to finalise the future course of action, he said. In the first phase of the campaign, the Gadgil report would be translated into Malayalam in a book format. The relevant portions would be distributed and discussions organised at the local level in association with NGOs, libraries and educational institutions.

He said that regional conventions would be organised before the State-wide convention. Implementation of the Gadgil report was more relevant in Kerala where the low-lying areas and highlands met with a unique topographical distribution contributing to different climatic conditions.

“Uncontrolled human interference on the Western Ghats is the basic reason for the increasing man-animal conflict. The change in climate with large stretches of Western Ghats, especially the border areas with Tamil Nadu, fast turning into rain shadow areas is another reason. The Gadgil report highlights the importance of a symbiotic existence between man and animals. The report should be implemented without delay to protect biodiversity,” he said.

“Opposition to Gadgil panel report is raised without actually studying the report. The report is aimed at the protection of farmers and ordinary people,” said N.U. John, environmental activist.

He said that ecological protection of the Western Ghats was crucial to preserving the climate in the highland, low land and the coastal areas. Uncontrolled intervention in the name of tourism and developmental activities were posing serious threat to the Western Ghats. “If it goes uncontrolled, it will directly affect tourism in the long run as ideal climate and ecology are the factors that make Kerala a favourite destination of tourists,” he said.

Carbon credit to farmer

As per the Gadgil panel report, carbon-credit needed to be accounted and given directly to the farmer, stressing his role in environment protection, said C.P. Roy, member of Green Leaf, an environmental group. He said that environmental protection was the responsibility of the people and it was not the bureaucrats but society as a whole that should work for it.

The Gadgil report placed people at the centre of environment protection, he said.

The suggestion in the report that the government and villagers should work together on a development plan for ecologically sensitive areas and the one that discouraged the use of genetically modified crops and monoculture plantations were all with a long-term perceptive, he said. As the villages on the Western Ghats were facing severe shortage of water, the panel’s suggestion for protection of natural water sources and streams underlined its social commitment, he said. It was the reason why people should be united for its implementation, he said.

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