Kochi: Eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), has flayed the recommendations made by the Kasturirangan committee, saying it contains 'unconstitutional' statements.
He said that Kasturirangan, who headed the 10-member high-level working group, constituted to examine the WGEEP report, had not shown 'scientific courtesy' to ask him about what was done by the WGEEP before commencing his panel's work on its recommendations.
Interacting with the audience after delivering a speech on 'sustainable rebuilding of Kerala' at a function organised by the Indian Association of Lawyers here on Friday, he said there were differences between the two reports on the Western Ghats.
"As a scientist, I must say what I did was entirely transparent and open. Dr Kasturirangan is an old respected friend. He knows me for last 30 years. When he started, I thought it is proper scientific courtesy that he would ask, since his work was to take our report further. He never did," Gadgil said.
Gadgil said Kasturirangan claimed that certain things in his database was superior to the WGEEP database.
"I requested him to kindly put it in the public domain. He never did it. It was a gross scientific violation," he said. He pointed out that the WGEEP database was placed in public domain.
Gadgil said a major difference was that Kasturirangan panel made an 'unconstitutional statement' in his report, saying that the local community (in the hills) cannot have any say in economic decision-making.
While Gadgil's report stated giving sanction for a stone quarry is an economic decision, the Kasturirangan panel said the gram panchayat cannot object to such decisions.
"It is clearly unconstitutional. I am surprised that a man of his stature put such statement in his report," he said.
Gadgil also said the Kasturirangan report did not give special attention to the water resources in the Western Ghats.
“The WGEEP carefully discussed water resources and the need to protect them. The Kasturirangan report only more or less talks about government-controlled forests and how to protect those. They gave no special attention to water resources," he said.
Protecting the Western Ghats
Gadgil's comments come at a time when there is a rising chorus in Kerala to implement either of these reports to protect the ecologically fragile Western Ghats in view of the recent floods.
The WGEEP, headed by Gadgil, had submitted the report to the government in August 2011. It had designated the entire hill range as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
Following protests by various groups and political parties against its recommendations, the government constituted the Kasturirangan committee to examine the WGEEP report.
As per the Kasturirangan report, instead of the total area of Western Ghats, only 37 per cent (60,000 sq. km.) of the total area is to be brought under ESA.
There was no immediate reaction from Kasturirangan about the charges maded by Gadgil.
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