ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Gadgil’s Ecological Insights

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In his article “Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel: A Play in Five Acts,” (EPW, 3 May 2014), Madhav Gadgil, the chief architect of the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), stated

The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report, prepared over a 17-month period from March 2010 to August 2011, has sparked off a vigorous debate, even demonstrations, protests, and violence … The Malayalam translation that sold so well was brought out by the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP), a people’s science movement, after the government initially suppressed the report … At the same time, a number of politicians and bureaucrats from many of the states, as well as some members of the church in Kerala, launched a campaign of disinformation on the WGEEP report. This campaign triggered large-scale violence in the hilly areas of Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Idukki districts of Kerala in November 2013.

The recent disastrous floods in Kerala reportedly reveal that “most of the areas affected by this monsoon were once classified as ecologically-sensitive zones” by the WGEEP. In an interview to Hindustan Times (18 August 2018), Gadgil said,

Irresponsible environmental policy is to be blamed for the recent floods and landslides in Kerala. Extensive stone quarrying and mushrooming of high-rises as part of tourism, and illegal forest land acquisition by private parties are the major reasons for the recent floods in the state.

In her recent article on Gadgil (Outlook, 20 August 2018), Medha Patkar has rightly reminded us: “His biggest contribution to the Western Ghats report was the partnerships it forged with gram sabhas from Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg right up to Kerala.”

Gadgil deserves our respect for combining scientific ecological insights with the insights of the people at the grass roots in his composite method of understanding nature.

Arup Kumar Sen

Kolkata

Updated On : 24th Aug, 2018

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