Ecologist warns of Kerala-type flood in Maha, Goa

Posted on by Times of India

PUNE: Eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil said Maharashtra and Goa may face grave situations if the environmental concerns raised in the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report he submitted in 2011 are not addressed.
“The rainfall intensity in Kerala, in Maharashtra and in Goa are different. But the environmental concerns remain the same as there is intense construction activity in all these areas,’’ he told TOI on Monday.

Gadgil said both the states may not get intense rainfall like Kerala but are prone to flash floods and landslides like in Malin in Pune district in 2014.

“The impact could be adverse. It may just not be related to flash floods. It could be any grave environmental concern that the report highlights. It is up to to the states to implement the recommendations,” he said.

There are several environmental concerns in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra which should be discussed at the local level in gram sabhas, he added.

Kerala’s situation this monsoon was a man-made disaster brought on by illegal constructions and excessive quarrying, Gadgil said.

“Had the democratic forces prevailed, had the people not succumbed to false propaganda, and had WGEEP report been implemented, Kerala would not have witnessed such havoc today. The way forward is clear __ people must take charge, exercise their constitutional rights and steer the state to a path of environment and people-friendly development by reining in environmental abuse,” he said.

There is widespread misuse of forest resources, and degradation of rivers and land, with rampant illegal quarrying and construction triggering landslides, rubble blocking streams and rendering river beds shallow triggering floods, he said.

The report Gadgil compiled warned against such disasters. It emphasized a people-oriented approach to land and water resources. “Kerala, which leads the country in democratic devolution of powers and in people-oriented planning and management of natural resources, should have implemented the report,” he said.

Gadgil had done extensive study on Goa’s environment based on the data provided by iron ore mining companies in their Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports in 2011. Every EIA suppressed fact about hydrological impact of mining and does not mention about the streams

Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi told TOI that when governments refuse to share information proactively with citizens, such catastrophes take place with citizens bearing the brunt. “RTI brought the Gadgil report into public domain. The direction given in the CIC order should be followed by all the states to reduce such calamities,” he said.

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