The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) has recommended a blanket ban on plastic in the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats on the lines of the ban that is currently in place in hill stations such as Ooty and Mahabaleshwar.
The panel has also suggested phasing out of pesticides and using the organic farming model that is being used in Kerala as an alternative.
Confirming the recommendations, VS Vijayan, WGEEP panel member and ex-chairman of Biodiversity Board, Kerala, said, “Plastic is detrimental to the natural flow of water, growth of indigenous and rare plants in the Western Ghats, one of the most unique biodiversity hotspots. There’s a complete ban on polythene bags in hill towns such as Ooty and Mahabaleshwar.”
Lauding the move to phase out pesticides, Vijayan said the recommendation will go a long way in helping the region conserve its flora and fauna and save its fertile land. “The idea is to shift towards organic farming completely. We have suggested the organic farming model used in Kerala as an alternative and the use of pesticides should be stopped in a phased manner within five years of adopting this model,” Vijayan told HT.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the states to have adopted organic farming methods and non-pesticidal management. The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) based in Hyderabad is one of the driving forces, helping the farming community to cultivate crops using traditional methods.
Commenting on the recommendations of the WGEEP report, founder of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology PM Bhargava said, “It’s a wise recommendation. Pesticides have been subsidised many times over leading to its excessive use, which has in turn spoiled the quality of soil and ground water. It is time we understand the importance of organic farming.”
“It has been proven more than adequately that pesticides can be eliminated without affecting the yield. The rural development ministry of Andhra Pradesh along with CSA has helped cultivate 35 lakh acres of land solely by adopting NPM and organic farming,” Kavitha Kuruganti, Bengaluru based anti-GM activist told HT.