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River diversion projects are totally undesirable, says ecologist Madhav Gadgil

Our Bureau Mangaluru | Updated on October 28, 2021

FILE PHOTO: Madhav Gadgil   -  The Hindu

‘It is the aquatic biota that has been very badly treated throughout India with pollution’

Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats ecology expert panel and submitted a report to the Centre in 2011, says that the river diversion projects are not desirable from many points of view.

Replying to the questions on the impact of river diversion projects on ecology at a webinar on ‘Western Ghats: Past, present and future’, organised by St Aloysius College in Mangaluru on Thursday, he said the river diversion projects are not desirable from many points of view.

Such projects are completely undesirable from biodiversity point of view also. It is the aquatic biota that has been very badly treated throughout India with pollution and projects such as river diversion, he said.

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Asked how did he feel when the recommendations of the commission headed by him were not accepted by the government, he said, “I am a realist and I know jolly well that the report had amongst other things very clear statements about documented corrupt practices of Revenue Department, Forest Department. Nobody could object because everything was based on solid evidence.”

He said the Maharasthra government had uploaded a so-called Marathi summary of the Western Ghat report on its website, and termed the summary as a deliberate distortion. Gadgil said he knew that there is nothing that the governments can dispute as being without any proper evidence, as the panel had proper evidence for everything.

The problem was that it was never made available in any local language, although the panel had strongly recommended it. Stating that the panel’s report was a 514-page highly technical document, he said people could not read and digest it.

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Gadgil said he is writing a readable account in English. The book titled ‘Western Ghats: A Love Story’ is being edited now. It may become available to people in reasonably few months, he said. He said he is happy that people are still talking about the report 10 years after it was submitted to the government. That is more than what a scientist was expecting, he added.

Published on October 28, 2021

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