Friday, February 01, 2008

an interesting invite from river research center, which works on the issues of chalakudy river basin in kerala. in india's 'development', rivers, forests, coastal areas, etc have no place. they are nothing but a dump bins for dumping whatever 'development' wants to dump.

Invitation: Brain storming Discussion

Pandu Ranga Hegde and Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma to participate

Do Our Western Ghats Rivers Have A Future?

Recognized as one of the 24 biodiversity hotspots in the world, the Western Ghats in south-western India is not only the most important and picturesque ecosystems but one that is gateway to the monsoons in the sub-continent.

A unique repository of floral and faunal biodiversity with high degree of endemism and restricted range species, the need for preserving this Global Biodiversity Hot Spot has been reiterated in all concerned regional, national and international forums. The intrinsic role of the Western Ghats in sustaining the livelihoods and survival of the populations of three South Indian Peninsular States of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in particular are also self explanatory.

Inspite of several studies and research papers on the Western Ghats and crores of public money spent in the name of Western Ghats Development, this Paradise on Earth is on the verge of an ecological disaster with far reaching social, economic and political implications.

The manner in which this region has been exposed to unprecedented destruction over the last 200 years for denudation of forest, clear felling of natural forests for raising commercial plantation, submersion of large areas under river valley projects, forest fires, damage to areas due to mining, soil erosion leading to silting of reservoirs and reduction in their life span and the adverse effects of floods and landslides, encroachment of forest land and poaching of wild life, infrastructure development etc. are already taking their toll.

Drying up and dying rivers, increasing water scarcity, intermittent droughts and floods, dwindling fish stock, displaced tribal livelihoods, the list continues..

Not long ago, however, the region had posted one of the greatest successes in ecological activism by restoring the Silent Valley to its pristine beauty. It had reflected the testimony of the people's resilience and the effort to conserve whatever remains of the dwindling natural resources. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve launched in 1986 with a total area of 5520.40 extending over the

states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu around the Nilgiri Mountains became perhaps the indicator for all the three states to come together for conservation of its common natural heritage.

In the recent past, new assaults in the disguise of economic growth and job creation on this life-support system of pristine waters and rich biodiversity are further weakening the fragile connectivity between the remaining fragments of forests The political economy of development is exerting enormous pressure to weaken the resilience of the system, be it the ongoing tussle on the issue of Kerala's Athirappilly dam or the elusive 4000 MW Thermal Power project along the west coat at Tadadi, in Karnataka. One only needs to stretch beyond one's window to locate such symbols of so-called progress.

However, several forms of resistances are also emerging and ongoing in several tracts of the Western Ghats in the three states.…. To save the remaining forests, rivers and mountain tracts, tribal habitats from damming, mining, industries, infrastructure etc.

The challenge therefore before us is,

  1. To honestly assess the possibilities of trying to connect the losing connections between the localized struggles for conserving the forests, rivers, mountains and ecosystems within the Western Ghats in the three states under the changing socio-political context
  2. To bring the Western Ghats into the mainstream of public policy agenda, for developing a holistic vision for conservation of the natural resources in the Western Ghats.
  3. To generate widespread discussions on the need to save our dying rivers from further damming and degradation of catchments and watersheds

In order to discuss these and related issues, we are organizing a brain storming meeting.

Main Speakers:

Pandu Ranga Hegde,

Leader, Appiko Movement and environmental and social activist from Karnataka.

Have lead struggles to save Kali River, Saravati River in Karnataka.

Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma

Well known water expert and development analyst. Director of Ecological Foundation. Campaigning against the Inter Linking of Rivers Project. Authored the book 'Paradise Lost… almost', an as is the basis account of the plight of the Western Ghats.

Venue: Vyapara Bhavan, Chalakudy,

Date-time: February 3, 2008, from 2.30 p.m. to 6p.m.

This meeting is organized by Appiko Movement and Chalakudy Puzha Samrakshana Samithi with support from organizations working on and for the Western Ghats.

River Research Center, Thrissur, Kerala.


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