Cauvery Calling: NGOs urge Leonardo DiCaprio to withdraw support

Updated - September 26, 2019 07:12 am IST

Published - September 25, 2019 10:01 pm IST - MYSURU

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

More than 90 civil society groups and NGOs under the banner of Coalition for Environmental Justice in India have expressed concern to Hollywood actor and climate change activist Leonardo DiCaprio’s support to Cauvery Calling campaign launched by Isha Foundation.

The actor had endorsed the campaign led by spiritual leader Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, which hopes to see planting of 242 crore trees along the river banks through agro-forestry and covering one-third of Cauvery basin with trees. The net impact, it is said, will be increase to water retention by over 40% and be an example of balancing ecology and economics.


The civil society groups have aired their apprehension on the grounds that the campaign was not a programme that comprehended the realities of the river basin and her future well-being.

Leo Saldanha of Environmental Support Group, in his letter, said the programme presents a simplistic view that the river can be saved by planting trees on banks of streams, rivulets, tributaries, and the floodplains.

The signatories to the letter said planting trees was best done based on local needs and being sensitive to local ecological dynamics involving constitutionally-empowered panchayats, statutory Forest Rights Committees, Biodiversity Management Committees, ward committees, etc.

Critical task

Mr. Saldanha said tree planting is only one of the activities needed to rejuvenate the river; tree planting alone won’t achieve the critical task of saving the Cauvery and there was a critical need to stop mindless destruction of forests and watershed of the Cauvery in the name of development.

He also suspected that the massive tree-planting campaign could promote monoculture paradigm which could create unintended and unforeseen social and ecological consequences, as planting trees in certain regions (grasslands and floodplains for instance) could result in drying up streams and rivulets, and destruction of wildlife habitats.

Mr.Saldanha also drew attention to a PIL filed before the Karnataka High Court against fund collection for the campaign and urged the actor to withdraw his support for the campaign.

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