Q: Though a majority of people are not aware of Madhav Gadgil report, or its suggestions, Prof Madhav Gadgil is picturized as a villain to a large section of people in Kerala…

It's the triumph of misinformation campaign which our political leaders are incredibly adept at. And it can be at incredible levels.   The report starts with the clear statement that what we see in the country is ‘development by imposition’ or ‘conservation by imposition.’

 

 The intention of the report is to implement pro-people acts, like Forests Rights Act, among other things… During a discussion at Kasargod, a political leader said that the Gadgil Report is against Forests Rights Act. Such blatant lies are being told about the report and people are not aware (of the facts). 

 

Q:  Many of the warning given in the report, like high temperature and acute water shortage, have become real in a short time...

 … In Kerala, there are such a large number of stone quarries which are responsible for destroying a large proportion of water resources in the Western Ghats. This kind of development activities must not be permitted unless local people actually want them.  

It is true that the representative democracy has been sabotaged and abused. We must now try to go to real participatory democracy.

 

Q: Ideally, this seems right, but what happened in the case of river sand mining is quite alarming. The panchayats were entrusted to decide on river sand mining. But, across the state, these local bodies were in collusion with the illegal miners …

It is true that the representative democracy has been sabotaged and abused. We must now try to go to real participatory democracy. We must make sure that the grama sabhas have a say in what goes on.

 

At the grama sabha level, everywhere, including Kerala, people and even the panchayat sadasyas (members) are saying, that we want the quarry to be banned, but our bosses from the state level leadership, in all sorts of political parties, order us not to oppose the quarries. 

 

… When the political system is corrupt from the grassroots level, this becomes a dicey issue. 

 

Q: Would you say that the coming government (in Kerala) should have a re-look into the report instead of going after other commission reports?

Kasturi Rangan Committee perverted Gadgil Committee recommendations. The report asks: how can local communities have a say in economic decision making, which means that a stone quarry is an economic decision, the bosses sitting in Thiruvananthapuram will decide how many quarries should there be and how many illegal stone quarries should also be allowed, and imposed on local people.

 

I was aghast that Kasturi Rangan, who has been a friend for more than 30 years and for whom I have respect, could write such a statement in his report which is a perversion of the Constitution.  

I was aghast that Kasturi Rangan could write such a statement in his report which is a perversion of the Constitution.  

Q: Kerala is experiencing high temperature and rampant water shortage now…

According to the meteorological evidence daytime highs have not changed very much but the night time lows are going up.  The daytime highs are not unprecedented but the warmer nights are. This owes to the creation of concrete heat islands throughout the country.  

 

Q: What about non-human factors like El Nino and climate change?

Maharashtra is experiencing very bad water crisis this year. We never experienced this kind of water crisis even when we had very low rainfall in 1971. We had depleted groundwater and ruined the rivers and streams all these years and water shortages have become incredibly serious. These are the immediate management issues that we must address.

 

Yes, climate change is real. … but, we should not allow that consideration to divert our attention from the mismanagement of the day. 

 

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