‘Save Western Ghats’ campaign to be intensified in State

M. Raghuram

Campaign leaders fear severe water shortage in major cities

BANGALORE: The Save Western Ghats Campaign, which began 1989 in Karnataka, will be revived and intensified in the State to protect the green cover and the water resources.

Activists from Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Shimoga, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts will regroup in this endeavour.

A few conservationist groups from Bangalore are studying the impact of denudation of green cover in the Western Ghats on Bangalore and other Bayaluseeme (plains) areas.

Unified call

State convenor of the Campaign Panduranga Hegade told The Hindu that the districts participating in the campaign intend to give a unified call to save the western ghats.

“Health of the hills is the wealth of the plains — if cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, and Mysore have to get water, the green cover on the hills and the course of rivers should be maintained in their pristine condition. Because of various projects, mainly the hydel power projects the course of rivers running from the Western Ghats were being fragmented”

The campaign members have expressed opposition to 73 mini hydel projects proposed by the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL). “These projects were coming up in sensitive parts of the Western Ghats.

When the projects are through, several parts of the Western Ghats will experience creation of corridors to evacuate power through high tension lines which require infrastructure like pylons, line maintenance facilities and other buildings and roads.

These will further take away precious forest cover,” says J.L. Janardhan of Parisara Adhyayana Kendra of Shimoga.

According to the statistics given by Ministry of Environment and Forests, Karnataka has 36,449 sq km of forests out of which dense forests account for 431 sq. km in eight districts while moderate dense forests form 22,030 sq. km and open forests are in 13,988 sq. km.

Kodagu has the largest area under dense forests with 158 sq. km followed by Uttara Kananda 104 sq km, Dakshina Kannada 71 sq km, Hassan 29 sq km, Shimoga 23 sq km, Belgaum 19 sq km, Chamarajanagar 12 sq km, Udupi 11 sq km and Chikmagalur seven sq km.

All other districts have no dense forests.

More forests needed

Considering the land that the State commands – 1,91,791 sq km the State should have had 23 per cent of land under forest cover of all three categories – very dense, moderately dense and open forests as per the world forest cover standards, but at present only 19 per cent of land mass is covered with forest area and there was an immediate need for not just protecting the existing forest cover but also to bring more land under forest cover.

Karnataka has only 1.11 per cent of the total forest cover of the country.

Under Recorded Forest Areas (RFA), the Reserved Forests are to the extent of 29,550 sq km, protected forests 3,585 sq km and unclassified forests 43,084 sq km.

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