KOCHI: For the first time in the history of Wayanad, farmers and environmentalists have submitted a charter of demands to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is contesting from Wayanad to the Lok Sabha. The charter was submitted by Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samithi and Wayanad Karshaka Koottayma, which have significant clout among the famers in the district.
The charter is in the backdrop of the Congress manifesto which promises to take special efforts in the conservation of the Western Ghats, participatory forest management and efforts to reduce man-animal conflicts and compensate adequately when such things happen, N Badushah, president, Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samithi, told Express.
Considering the role played by Wayanad to quench the thirst of Bengaluru, the natural forest cover in Wayanad - which is almost 42 per cent of the 2,132 sq km land area of Wayanad ranging from tropical evergreen forests to wet deciduous forests to grassland and shola forest ecosystems to mono crop plantations - conservation and increase in area of natural forests involving local tribal wisdom has to given special emphasis.
Wayanad’s forests are mother of over 13 rivers originating from the landscape from its shola grasslands that are capable of acting like a sponge and Kabini, the major river of the district, drains approximately 94tmc into the Kaveri which not only is the mainstay of farmers in the Mysuru region of Karnataka as well as those regions of Tamil Nadu depending on the Kaveri water for irrigation and also it is the main source of drinking water for Bengaluru, the IT hub of India, he said.
Regulated tourism and land use management
Wayanad has a population of 8.1 lakh people while it attracts another 8.24 lakh as tourists in each tourist season. There is no thought on carrying capacity of the landscape which has resulted in depletion of precious water and energy resources being shared by farming and tourism sectors during dry seasons. So the greens have sought a study on the carrying capacity of every tourist place in Wayanad.
Tourism has to be promoted only taking note of the carrying capacity of the region as in the case of several world tourist spots that are already leading the way due to damage to ecology. It has also sought a complete ban on any alternative Ghat roads on the Western Ghats, including trekking paths, in the wake of severe threat of landslides.
Freedom from debt and assuring sustainable income
In the backdrop of five farmer suicides in this year alone, they demanded all farm loans be waived off urgently. It is also important to provide interest-free loans to farmers to revive the farming sector. Further, a mission mode work towards making the district organic in the next 5 years is imperative, they said.
Enabling growth of agro-based industries
Only agro-based industry should be encouraged in Wayanad. Efforts should be taken to support and promote micro, small and medium enterprises in this sector. Further, bamboo has to be promoted as a crop in farms to avoid further depletion of the same from forest lands for human use. Wayanad does not require any railway line or airport, as it has already six interstate roads connecting Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well as five Ghat roads.