‘Locals must decide on Western Ghats

By Express News Service – CHENNAI

13th August 2013

  • Madhav Gadgil receiving the MS Swaminathan award in the city recently | Express Photo
    Madhav Gadgil receiving the MS Swaminathan award in the city recently | Express Photo

Ecologist Madhav Gadgil brushed aside the allegations that the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) was imposing the adoption of conservation measures on the local people of the area. Gadgil, who is the Chief Architect of the panel and visiting research professor at D D Kosambi Goa University, was in the city recently for receiving the M S Swaminathan Award for Environment Protection. The award was presented by the Rotary Club of Madras East and Cavinkare Private limited.

Gadgil said that the report should be first made available to the locals and that it was for them to decide on what was to be done. He added that the report must be translated into the local language and sent to the village panchayats and local bodies. “We cannot protect nature without respecting people or democracy. But what we see today is development and conservation by imposition and often rejection of science,” he said.

The WGEEP report on the ecological status of the Western Ghats had quoted controversy since its release last year with a few State Government officials openly opposing the report for being anti-development and anti-people. “In the report, we have never said that we have all the answers. The report only shows what is happening in the area and suggests possibilities on various measures that can be taken up to protect its ecology,” he said.

He said that those who were spreading rumours about the report and block it from reaching the local people have vested interests. He also added that people at the grassroots level in the country had always stood by ecological practices if they were given an understanding of the issue. “Owing to the strong links between their livelihoods and nature, they have always stood by the ecological protection,” he said.

It is a myth that development and ecology cannot go together, he said. Quoting examples of conservation efforts, he said, “It is wrong to say that India cannot afford conservation.”


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