Raising a note of criticism against the Centre and the State government for their “lackadaisical approach” to environmental issues, Madhav Gadgil, chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), said on Friday that the panel report submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests was being misinterpreted for hidden interests.
He was inaugurating a seminar on ‘Protection of Western Ghats’ organised by the Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti at the Town Hall here.
Alleging attempts to confuse the people about the initiative, Prof. Gadgil said interest groups and government agencies were creating a false impression among the people that the recommendations of the panel were “rigid.”
They raised allegations that the WGEEP was dictating terms and conditions which would have adverse impact on the livelihood of the people, he said.
Criticising a study report submitted by the K. Kasturirangan-led High Level Working Group of Western Ghats, Prof. Gadgil said: “It was just a palatable version intended to gratify business segments and vested interest groups at the cost of nature.”
Unpalatable suggestions had been diluted in the Kasturirangan report to please the bureaucracy, he alleged.
Denying the developmental claims projected by the Union government based on GDP statistics, Prof. Gadgil said those figures were to hoodwink citizens as it had hardly any relevance while taking into account the plight of the common man.
“Develop recklessly and conserve thoughtlessly is the latest motto where in the local community and its interests have been sidelined by external forces,” he lamented.
Expressing resentment over the government ‘propaganda’ that his panel’s report did not consider the livelihood of the people, Prof. Gadgil said it was high time the government looked into its own developmental claims that uprooted the people’s livelihood.
Delivering the keynote address, V.S. Vijayan, a member of the Gadgil committee and former chairman of the Kerala Biodiversity Board, said it was up to the citizens to make a decision on which report should be implemented.