Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala should not say that the “Western Ghats is an amenable source for us where we can bring in any changes, once the people have given us the mandate.”
Appealing to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his Cabinet colleagues to support the movement for protection of Western Ghats, Ms. Patkar urged the government to take the Madhav Gadgil’s Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report forward while having a debate with those having differences of opinion on its recommendations.
She was addressing a national environment summit held at Ernakulam Maharaja’s College here on Saturday as part of the 30th anniversary of the Save Western Ghats march held in 1987.
Terming the Gadgil report as an action research report, Ms. Patkar wondered how it could be questioned or just bypassed by anyone, whether politician and environmentalists, who also were there in the other camps, or the common people. “Nobody can accept that kind of de-recognition of the report while the report is already upheld by the people in Konkan area, western Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala as well, who all are represented here [at the function].
Expressing her gratitude to the LDF government for not going ahead with the Athirappilly hydel project, Ms. Patkar said the Western Ghats report had clearly stated that the Athirappilly project cannot be taken ahead. “I remember with very heartfelt memories of Latha [A. Latha], who was Chalakudy Latha for us and who fought the battle [against the project] till her last breath,” she said.
Recalling that the Gadgil report had clearly pointed out that large dams should not be built in the ecologically sensitive areas of Western Ghats, Ms. Patkar said the US had already demolished 76 large dams to restore its rivers. “We want our country to be freed of the wrong choice of technology in terms of water management as well,” she said.
Noted environmental activists, including M.K. Prasad, Claude Alvares, V.S. Vijayan, and M.P. Mathai, were among those who attended the programme.