Ecologist Madhav Gadgil has said that the over-exploitation of natural resources hurt the ecology of the Western Ghats. He said in a talk on ‘Western Ghats development and the future of Wayanad’ held at Kalpatta .
Coming down heavily on expert opinions, he said he knew many expert opinions crafted for helping the environment looters. “Either the so-called experts are corrupt for personal gains or they have to protect the interests of their superiors,” he said.
The wrong development priorities led to the environmental degradation of the Western Ghats. It was not the local communities that directly depended on the Western Ghats for their livelihoods, but the profit-driven exploitation for industrial consumption that led to the current degradation. “In Goa, owners of mining companies are well settled in London, but the affected are the local people whose drinking water has been polluted by unabated mining. That is the case everywhere,” he said.
He said the top-down decision-making process on development policies and project implementation ignored the environmental fragility of the region. Local communities and panchayats had little role in this system of decision making. Policies made at the top were being imposed on the local bodies and local communities, thus proving to be anti-people and harmful to the environment.
Speaking about the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, which he had chaired, Mr. Gadgil said the committee had made certain broad guidelines and recommendations. The decisions regarding ecologically fragile land (EFL) was one such. Mr. Gadgil visited the Puthumala area where a series of landslips last month took several lives and caused vast devastation.
Environmental activists Hareesh Vasudevan, N Badusha, P Chathukutty and PK Uthaman spoke.