Illegal forest land acquisition behind Kerala floods, says ecologist Madhav Gadgil
Ecologist Madhav Gadgil, founder of the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, has described the floods in Kerala as a man-made disaster; a reaction to the illegal excavations, stone quarrying done over a decade.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, Gadgil said, “Irresponsible environmental policy is to be blamed for the recent floods and landslides in Kerala. Extensive stone quarrying and mushrooming of high-rises as part of tourism, and illegal forest land acquisition by private parties are the major reasons for the recent floods in the state.”
Most of the areas affected by this monsoon were once classified as ecologically-sensitive zones by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel , also known as the Gadgil Committee, formed in 2010 the Centre.
Accusing the successive Kerala governments of inaction, Gadgil said, “We had first submitted the report in 2011...we were in a sense boycotted by government officials as we had recommended them to stop illegal activities...”
Gadgil said that the report had very specifically pointed that if the stone quarrying was not stopped, it might eventually lead to natural calamities “like the one happening in the state today”. However, the establishments turned a deaf ear to the recommendations. According to Gadgil, a total of 1,650 excavators were deployed for stone quarrying and mining, of which only 150 were given permissions.
Expressing grief over the situation in Kerala, Gadgil said, “The government should at least now stop all the illegal stone quarrying activities after having faced the consequences. Although it is late, the government must act on the recommendations ...”