THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Developmental activities in the state should be initiated based on the needs of the particular region and by conserving natural resources, Minister for Rural Development K C Joseph said. He was inaugurating a two-day national seminar on ‘watershed planning for natural resources management’ at the Kanakakkunnu Palace here on Wednesday.
‘’Though we have 44 rivers, lakes, lagoons, ponds and backwaters, our water resources are degenerating with pollution coming from a large population, careless disposal of waste, reclamation and so on. We forget that water is essential to maintain life,’’ he said.
Terming integrated watershed planning and management absolutely essential for sustainable development, Joseph said that discussions on watershed planning, had initially led to a better understanding about natural resources, then the emphasis moved on to water harvesting and now livelihood improvement programmes.
Former Finance Minister Thomas Isaac shared his experience in watershed management and decentralised planning at the inaugural meet. Confessing that the high expectations raised by watershed planning were not realised fully, he said that it was time to kick-start the process once again on the eve of the 12th Five Year Plan.
‘’We are facing serious ecological crisis here which is being manifested as changes in annual rainfall pattern, regular droughts that affect our crops, floods in monsoon and at least 25 per cent of the land is under severe erosion with tons of top soil being lost every year,’’ Isaac said.
‘’Among the contributing factors are unscientific and mindless intervention and changes in land use, deforestation leading to rainwater reaching the plains in a day or less, road construction and land reclamation leading to water logging and dams that are detrimental to forests. This path of development is not sustainable,’’ he added.
Pointing out that human intervention is forgetting interdependence of land forms and water resources, Isaac said that social regulation is absolutely important to regulate human intervention in land-use. ‘’Of the possible social regulations, watershed management is the most important. Environmental interventions has to be under local control. There has to be a sense of ownership among stakeholders,’’ Isaac said.
Earlier, K C Joseph released a compendium of technical papers by giving a copy to Thomas Isaac. He also released databanks of three districts - Palakkad, Ernakulam and Wayanad, at the meet.
Mayor K Chandrika presided over the function. Land Use Commissioner Jose Issac and NABARD chief general manager K C Shashidhar also spoke on the occasion.