Staff Reporter

‘Media coverage has made farming look pointless’

‘Panchayats have failed to carry out their duties related to environmental conservation’

Jaiji Peter Foundation’s gold medal for the best environmental activist given to Purushan Eloor

ALAPPUZHA: Coir and Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran has said that the media have a large role to play in farmers reclaiming and filling up paddy fields for purposes other than agriculture.

Speaking at an award ceremony organised by the Jaiji Peter Foundation here on Sunday, Mr. Sudhakaran said that the wide media reportage on the losses suffered by paddy farmers had led to a notion among farmers that there was no point in continuing farming and that they could use paddy fields for other purposes. This had led to a drop in the area under cultivation in the State, particularly in Kuttanad.

Even when the Left launched an anti-reclamation stir, there were efforts to propagate the notion that the stir was baseless. The method followed during the stir might have had faults, but the stir itself was never wrong, Mr. Sudhakaran said pointing out that such agitations were necessary to preserve ecological balance.

‘Man-made disaster’

More than natural calamities, it was man who had caused the damage in Kuttanad. Citing the case of the Alappuzha –Changanassery Canal which had several unscientifically constructed bridges across it, the Minister said even officials were not interested in protecting the ecological balance of the region. Ironically, it was government money that was being used to destroy nature through such unscientific constructions, he said.

Laws alone would not help in protection of nature. Public awareness had to be generated and those responsible had to do their part, Mr. Sudhakaran said criticising panchayats for failing to carry out their duties related to conservation and preservation of ecology.

“Not a single panchayat in the State has so far come forward to protect the ecosystem; the same is the case with municipalities too. The fact that preservation of the ecosystem is a social responsibility, a citizen’s duty and a humanitarian gesture has to be propagated,” he added.

Mr. Sudhakaran later gave away the Jaiji Peter Foundation’s gold medal for the best environmental activist in the State to Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samithi researcher Purushan Eloor for his relentless battle against the pollution of the Periyar river.

Alappuzha MLA K.C. Venugopal delivered the Jaiji Peter memorial lecture. Foundation president K.V. Sudhakaran, chairman P.O. Philip and secretary Babu Peter spoke.

The foundation was set up in memory of Jaiji Peter, a senior sub-editor with the Malayala Manorama newspaper who passed away in an accident on May 4, 1997.