PUTHUMALA (WAYANAD): Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) head Madhav Gadgil has called upon the public to become experts of their local environment. Speaking at a seminar organised by greens at Kalpetta here on Thursday, he said that such access to genuine information would help people question the ‘so-called expert opinions’.
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.
“Compile the environment data of your surroundings and put it on the public domain. Technology helps you obtain data and share it online. Let discussions come up among stakeholders of the environment - local people. That is the way forward for us and not parachuting development policies from above,” he said.
Gadgil noted that industrialists are looting the environment and not local people who eke out a living out of natural resources. “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.
PROPAGANDA OVER HIS REPORT
He lamented that widespread propaganda has been unleashed by vested interests on WGEEP report. “The report doesn’t have a final word on anything. It has recommended that local people or gramasabhas should have a say over what kind of development they need. It should not be unilaterally decided and enforced by the government or bureaucracy from above,” he clarified. Gadgil slammed both the Central and state governments for flouting environmental rules and facilitating vested interests.
Gadgil visited landslide-hit Puthumala in the morning. Talking to Express, he said the Puthumala incident was a big tragedy. He didn’t comment on whether soil piping or heavy downpour caused the landslide. Reacting to the state government’s reported move to consider Gadgil recommendation also in rebuilding Kerala he said the panel had not suggested drafting any new law, but enforcing existing laws. “I have not received any communication from the state government till now. It has slapped me as an enemy since I submitted the report in 2011,” he said. Environmental activists Hareesh Vasudevan, N Badusha, P Chathukutty and PK Uthaman spoke.