There are provisions in the Madhav Gadgil committee report to protect ecologically important grasslands in the Western Ghats, V.S. Vijayan, a member on the panel has said.
He said the region had been categorised into three zones based on topographical features. Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, he said the grasslands in Idukki, especially the Wagamon hills, had been recommended for scientific protection. The Kasturirangan report, he said, categorised the region into two based on vegetation and left behind the grasslands that had a major role in any conservation drive.
“The Kasturirangan report lacks scientific approach,” he said adding that factors such as soil condition, whether landslip prone or not, earthquake proximity, and biodiversity spread were evaluated for conservation efforts in the Gadgil report.
The opposition to the report in Idukki district was not based on facts. There was a campaign to emotionally drive farmers against the report, he said. “There is not a single word in the report that harms the farm community,” Dr. Vijayan said adding that it was farmer-friendly.
There were many suggestions for improving the quality of life of the farmer and protecting his/ her livelihood, Dr. Vijayan said. The farmer was the main decision-making agent at the grassroots as per a suggestion in the Gadgil report.
The Gadgil report was democratic to the core as it entrusted the grama sabha and the grama panchayat to decide on Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) status and the development works to be taken up there, he said.
He said categorisation of the ESA in the Madhav Gadgil report was only tentative and it was up to local bodies to decide on the matter. It was the constitutional right provided to the local bodies to decide at the grassroots and they had been given importance in deciding on matters related to conservation and protection of environment.
Dr. Vijayan suggested that the report should be translated and distributed at the grassroots level to clear apprehension in the farmer community.
The Western Ghats was considered a single entity and the division of taluks based on scientific factors and it was for the local bodies to decide on the activities to be taken up there, he said.
The grasslands and cultivated and populated areas were all given due importance while specifically underlining natural phenomena such as earthquake, cloudburst, and climatic changes for a long-term plan.
For Idukki, where rain shadow areas are increasing along the border, the report has plan for rejuvenation of the green cover based on a scientific conservation approach on the Western Ghats, he said.
The Kasturirangan report lacks scientific approach.
Member of Gadgil panel