December 8, 2021 6:34:40 pm
In the backdrop of the Karnataka government rejecting the Kasturirangan committee report on Western Ghats, veteran ecologist Madhav Gadgil criticised the report calling it ‘faulty’ and ‘unscientific’.
He told The Indian Express that the report prepared by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) was a pro-nature, pro-people report based on sound scientific information and feedback from central and state governments, zilla parishads, gram panchayats and people.
Gadgil was the chairman of the WGEEP which submitted a 522 page-report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2011. Calling the Western Ghats region as “The Protector of Indian Peninsula”, Gadgil in his report suggested the designation of the entire region as Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) and had classified the 142 taluks in the ghats into ESA 1, 2 and 3.
Since the government did not implement the Gadgil report, the Centre established the Kasturirangan panel.
“It defined ecological sensitivity on the basis of a database developed in an open participative manner and flexibly suggested three levels of ecological sensitivity. Its recommendations conformed to our constitution and various acts. Several vested interests engaged in exhausting or polluting the country’s natural capital to make a fast buck were stacked against it, so it was rejected out of hand. The Kasturirangan panel was established to keep the pretense of being engaged in protecting the environment. It produced a very faulty, unscientific report which further stated that local communities have no role in economic decisions, clearly in violation of our constitutional provisions. But since even these weak, anti-people recommendations are unacceptable, it is being rejected now,” he told The Indian Express.
Principal Research Scientist, Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy, Dr Indu K Murthy said that Western Ghats, being a biodiversity hotspot and home to several endemic species, needs protection, particularly in the light of impending climate change.
“This is because the more biodiverse the systems are, the more resilient they are to climate change. In the absence of a mechanism to check and balance development in the region, several species, their habitat and the related ecosystem services, which are undervalued are threatened,” she said.
Professor at Center for Ecological Sciences department at Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Dr TV Ramachandra said, “I hoped that Kasturirangan report), which is a diluted version of Gadgil report, would suit the current generation of arrogant and irresponsible decision making process. I hope sense prevails on the administration and Karnataka becomes a forerunner in ensuring the sustainability of natural resources through proper regulatory mechanism. Otherwise, the State will pay a heavy price considering impending serious threats of global warming,” he added.
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