Environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Experts’ Panel (WGEEP), on Saturday, reiterated that a balanced economic and social development was possible only when people played their role in deciding the course of development as well as measures towards conservation.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the Kerala Congress (Thomas) as part of the birth anniversary of its youth wing, the Youth Front (Thomas) here on Saturday, Prof. Gadgil said the new Union government was fast clearing projects while talking of development as people’s movement. “A new people- oriented order of development and environmental protection can only be a people’s movement,” he said.
“If we merely pay lip service to making development a people’s movement and make environmental clearances and forest clearances available at lightning speed we will end up replicating all over the country the Bellary Model that has devastated the landscape and people’s livelihood in a district in Karnataka,” he said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is calling for making development a people’s movement. However, people have not been empowered to participate either in development or nature conservation,” he said. Stressing the need to move away from this ‘destructive models’ and shape a new economic and social order, Prof. Gadgil pointed out that the attempt of the WGEEP was to advocate empowerment of people and offer a set of recommendations merely as a starting point for discussions.
An important focus of the development of Western Ghats should be on properly informing and organising people down to the grassroots-level to exercise their democratic rights, he said. “A well-informed and empowered citizenry will ensure that environment was properly cared for, even as we continue to industrialise like in the case of Germany and Scandinavian countries,” Prof Gadgil pointed out.