The ecologically important grasslands which is facing various kinds of threat could be effectively countered and there is enough provision for it in the Madhav Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats, which specifically catagorise the entire region in to three zones based on the topographical features, cultivation, soil condition, and its bio-diversity spread, according to Dr. V. S. Vijayan, member from the State to the panel.
In an interview to The Hindu on Monday, he said that grasslands in Idukki especially the Wagamon hills, one of the ten bio-diversity grasslands in Asia, has been recommended with scientific protection. In the Dr. Kasturirangan report, he said that it catagorised the entire region into two based on vegetation and left behind the grasslands which needed a major role in any conservation drive. “The report (Dr. Kasturirangan) lacks scientific approach'', he said adding that various factors like soil condition, whether landslip prone or not, earth quake proximity and bio diversity spread and many factors were evaluated to the core for conservation efforts in the Gadgil report. He said that in Idukki district, the stiff opposition to the report is without knowing the fact.
A sheer campaign to emotionally drive the farmers against the report was going on without knowing the report, he said. There is not a single word in the report that harm the farmer community, Mr. Vijayan said adding that it is entirely supportive to the farmer. There are many suggestions for improving the quality of life of the farmer and protecting his livelihood, Mr. Vijayan said. The farmer is the main agent at the grassroots to decide on as per the suggestion in the Gadgil report. The Gadgil report is most democratic to the core as it entrusts the grama sabha and the grama panchayat to decide on the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) status in which it falls and the development works to be taken there.
He said that the categorisation of ESA in the Madav Gadgil report was only a tentative one and it entrusts the local bodies to decide on it. It is the constitutional rights provided to the local bodies to decide at the grassroots and they have been given prior importance on deciding the matters related to conservation of the ecology and the protection of the environment.
He suggested that the report should be translated and distributed at the grassroots level to clear if any suspicion among the farmer community, which is at the grassroots for a democratic set up in an agrarian based economy. The entire region of the Western Ghats is considered in a single entity and the division of taluks is based on scientific factors and it is the local bodies to decide the activities to be taken up there, he said.
The grasslands forest and cultivated and populated areas are all given due importance while specifically underlining the natural phenomena like earth quake cloud burst and climatic changes for a long term plan. As for Idukki, the Western Ghats played a major role as on the border, the rain shadow area is spreading and based on the ecological sensitivity, the report has plan for rejuvenation of the green cover to a scientific conservation approach on the Western Ghats, he said.