Aerosol, improper managementof water led to floods, says Gadgil

He speaks on ‘Fragile Ecology of Kerala’ at KLF’s 5th edition

January 18, 2020 11:16 pm | Updated 11:16 pm IST - Kozhikode

Accumulation of aerosol particles in the air and improper management of water resources were the reasons for the floods and landslips that ravaged Kerala in recent years, Madhav Gadgil, who led the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, has said.

Speaking to journalist Nithin Sethi at a session on ‘Fragile Ecology of Kerala’ at the fifth edition of the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) here on Saturday, he said India as a land mass had the largest accumulation of aerosol particles in the air, which was the reason for the changing pattern of rainfall resulting in landslips and floods. Aerosol, he said, was formed from manmade sand and automobile exhaust.

He said that if the water level in reservoirs was maintained at an appropriate level, substantial damage could have been avoided.

Mr. Gadgil, whose predictions regarding the fragile ecosystem of the Western Ghats had come true in the case of Kerala, cited Norway as the best model for balancing development and environment protection. In a later session on ‘Saving God’s Own Country’, he said the contradiction between development and environment was being posed by vested interests who were using natural resources to make some quick bucks.

People’s planning

“The State is a coercive agency and it always works in favour of the rich and the powerful,” he said, highlighting the role of people’s planning at the Grama Sabha level in balancing development and environment conservation.

His co-speaker and wildlife conservationist Prerna Bindra batted for a rethink on the implementation of the Gadgil commission report that was shelved by the Centre following protests. “Economy rests on ecology,” she said, adding the issue of reopening the National Highway through the Bandipur forests was equivalent to suicide. “If you do not give animals their space, they take yours,” she added.

Journalist Viju B., known for his book Flood and Fury , said Kerala had not even taken an initiative to study why natural disasters were happening again and again. The Western Ghats, to which every disaster was somehow related, needed to be considered a spiritual entity, rather than as a commercial entity in order to conserve it.

Richard Mahapatra, managing editor of Down to Earth, was the moderator of the session.

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