Thursday, 18 April 2013

Preserving our lands

Indiscriminate development of industries in India could turn Indian subcontinent into a polluted land. So"no go" areas were established and conserved as ecological sensitive zones. They were not opened for activities like mining, factories, housing sites, thermal power plants etc. One such zone is a strip of land 60,000 km in the "Western Ghats" of peninsular India.When this was proposed by the "Gadgil Committee" it had to face stiff opposition as three fourths of the land was closed for development as this land included plantations and habitations. So the Ecological Sensitive Area under Environmental Protection Act of 1976 was to be altered by the "Kasthurirangan Committee" This new committee proposed to protect only 90% of the hills of Western Ghats should come under the protected area. That is 4156 villages lie within the zone and the villages have a say in "development" of the area as per the green law. The people should be given choice on whether there should be hydro project there. But are the people really aware of the consequences of the project to make that decision?There will be no ban on hydroelectric projects. 30% of the water in proposed dams should be allowed to flow in the natural path; so that previous ecological life forms(fishes) could be preserved. Environmental clearances will be needed for all projects.There will be total ban on mining industries and those mines which already have licenses will be allowed to mine till their licensed time is over.Efforts are taken for keeping the ecological diversity and for preservation of the land. Animals like lions are reintroduced in forest preserves. A data base has been made for keeping a record of the plant growing in this ecologically diverse area. 589 plant species have been identified belonging to this area.There are few issues like the state of Kerala has its own data base which is not shared with others like state of Tamil Nadu or Karnataka state. Plants grow naturally in all states, we cannot say "this is our plant". Knowledge of the herbs and plants of  medicinal value must be shared with all. There are new issues like the state of Gujarat does not like the" lion" to be introduced in forests of Maharashtra state.When we are one nation, preserving the native species is our national goal and local issues should not divide us.

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