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Use technology to support natural resources: environmentalist

Special Correspondent
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Gadgil wants decentralised energy, public availability of information

Madhav Gadgil delivering the late Advocate Pandurang Mulgaonkar memorial lecture in Panaji on Wednesday.
Madhav Gadgil delivering the late Advocate Pandurang Mulgaonkar memorial lecture in Panaji on Wednesday.

Speaking on “An Incurable Optimist’s Vision of Goa 2035” at the late Advocate Pandurang Mulgaonkar memorial lecture here on Wednesday, environmentalist Madhav Gadgil called for a vibrant technology-based economy which would be supportive and not predatory towards natural resources.

Mr. Gadgil, the D.D. Kosambi Visiting Research Professor at Goa University, said the world was moulded by technology and technological progress, and it was the technology that drove the change. He advocated deploying and guiding technology in a prudent way. Mr. Gadgil, who was part of a Golden Jubilee Development Council formulated by the erstwhile government of Goa to formulate a Vision 2035 document for the State, said the government had done nothing to empower the tribals through The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.

He said nearly 60 per cent of people in India continue to rely heavily on their surrounding natural resources while another 20 per cent people were fast turning into ecological refugees as they were cut-off from their traditional natural resources in the name of mindless development.

Solar energy

Recalling the days when nuclear scientist Homi Bhabha was pushing for nuclear energy as an eventual answer to resolve the country’s energy woes, Mr. Gadgil recalled that it was D.D. Kosambi who disputed that view and asserted that solar energy was the actual answer.

He argued that contrary to highly centralised forms such as diesel and nuclear energy, solar energy was much more economical and decentralised.

Mr. Gadgil lamented that though Indians did not pay enough attention to the fast-developing information technology and tools and mechanisms of effective translation in public domain to their own loss.

Giving an example, Mr. Gadgil said the ‘Code of Communidades’ governing the age-old Goan “Gavkari”-based village land communes continued to be only in Portuguese and till now no serious efforts had been made to translate it into Konkani.

“If you overcome language and literacy barriers on one hand and use of centralised sources of energy is discouraged, people will be freed of their disempowerment much faster,” he said.

Emphasising on free flow of information, Mr. Gadgil predicted that through right to information and other evolving mechanisms, democratic tools and legislations, including a march towards direct democracy, “we might have created a world stripped of official secrets”.

Making a forceful plea for community-based resource sharing, Mr. Gadgil opposed predatory technology-driven growth and industrialisation which is replacing traditional activities and community-based natural resources.

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