Bangalore: Comparing Western Ghats to the character of Draupadi in Mahabharata, Ecologist Madhav Gadgil on Wednesday said the ‘inappropriate’ government policies are stripping the Western Ghats of all their resources. He was speaking at Bio Diversity Asia 2012, a gathering of ecologists from around the world. “The Dushyasana here is bad governance. There is no Krishna to save the Western Ghats. It is just wasteful consumption in order to show off,” Gadgil said.
Lashing out at the ‘skewed’ government policies which permitted setting up of a windmill at Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary area in Maharastra, Gadgil pointed out that the initial report of the Range Forest Officer, which recommended the area to be declared an ecologically sensitive zone was overruled by his superior. Gadgil accused the forest officer of submitting a false report to permit the windmill project. “The CF (Territorial) completely falsified his report by stating there was no wildlife and only bushy growth in the area,” he said while showing pictures to prove his point.
Gadgil also stated that the economic reforms seeking the entry of Foreign Direct Investment into the country would result in major environmental degradation. “This kind of development is unsustainable. We cannot compete with China, their exports are more than their imports while our case is just the opposite. We are trying to compete by inviting FDI which will result in environmental degradation and take away our policy making abilities,” he said.
Speaking on the sidelines after the lecture, Gadgil said that the though Government’s move to get the Western Ghats declared as a world heritage site was welcome, it was not enough. “It is a limited approach and the government must do much more,” he said.
Gadgil also refused to comment on the stance taken by the Karnataka government which is opposing the tag. He, however, said that there was an attempt to portray environmental conservation leading to displacement of people, which was wrong. “Our panel report (Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel’s report) talks about other ways in which conservation can be carried out without displacement,” he said.
Gadgil also added that there was widespread support for the report from the public even though efforts were made to keep it away from the public eye. “Putting the report in English on the website is inadequate. Only a few people will see it. We have recommended that the report should be translated into all languages,” he added.