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Goa faces a similar catastrophe as Kerala, warns ecologist Madhav Gadgil

Madhav Gadgil has accused the Centre of trying to short-circuit the National Green Tribunal even as he flagged Goa’s rampant illegal mining.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2018 17:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kerala floods,Goa mining,Madhav Gadkil
Kerala and Tamil Nadu fire force personnel transport children and elderly people in a dinghy through flood waters during a rescue operation in Annamanada village of Kerala.(AFP Photo)

As Kerala struggles to stay afloat in the worst flood to hit the state in a century, noted ecologist Madhav Gadgil warned on Sunday that Goa could face the same fate as Kerala if it does not protect the environment.

Gadgil, who headed a committee that authored a widely debated study on the Western Ghats a few years ago, also accused the Centre of trying to short-circuit the National Green Tribunal even as he flagged Goa’s rampant illegal mining, saying ‘greed for profits’ could be catastrophic for the state.

“Certainly all sorts of problems are beginning to surface on the environmental front in the Western Ghats. Of course, the Western Ghats are not as high in Goa as they are in Kerala, but I am sure Goa will also experience all sorts of problems,” he said, reacting to Kerala’s worst-ever floods.

Kerala’s worst flood in a century has killed over 200 people since August 8, destroyed homes, roads and bridges and rendered lakhs of people homeless.

Gadgil blamed greed for unlimited profits for not taking any environmental precaution, and cited the example of illegal mining.

“You have seen it in Goa too. The Justice M B Shah commission has estimated illegal profits of Rs 35,000 crore from illegal mining,” he said. “There is also enormous profit in the business of stone quarrying while there is very little investment.”

“The greed for enormous profits has been allowed to go on unchecked, which has actually worsened economic disparity in the society. So now those who are making money through these means are even more effective in getting the government to allow this kind of rampant illegal behaviour,” Gadgil said.

He said governments have been lax on implementing environmental norms. The ecologist also put the Centre in his line of fire, accusing it of trying to choke the National Green Tribunal.

“The central government is actually bending over backwards to make sure the National Green Tribunal does not function properly,” he said.

Gadgil had carried out an extensive study on Goa’s environment based on the data provided by iron ore mining companies in their Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports in 2011. He had then said the mining companies submitted false information in their EIA reports.

“In Goa, they had asked me to look into the impact of mining on environment. Every EIA suppressed fact about hydrological impact of mining,” the 73-year-old expert said.

“On `sadas’ (plains) of Goa there are a lot of streams which are originating but they don’t mention about them in their EIA reports. All kind of false statements are made in these reports,” he said.

Gadgil had headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) set up by the government.

The WGEEP, in its 2011 report, had recommended that several areas in Kerala which come under the Western Ghats be classified as ecologically sensitive.

The panel had recommended strict curbs on mining and quarrying and on use of land for non-forest purposes.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Aug 19, 2018 17:51 IST