Kerala-Coorg flood tragedy: Why did Christian Missionaries, Timber Mafia and Congress oppose Gadgil report 5 years back, what did the report say?

From past one month, Kerala and Kodagu (Coorg) are seeing the worst disaster in decades. The beautiful places have literally turned into graveyards with hundreds losing life and livelihood. The non stop rain has brought great destruction to nature and life to a standstill.

If we have observed the pattern since 5-10 years, we will notice that such natural calamities have become very common in many places. Four years back, Uttarkhand saw one of the worst floods ever which caused great devastation to the entire place. Last year we witnessed how Tamil Nadu suffered in heavy rains and floods. This year, it is Kerala and Karnataka which is facing the worst floods.At the same time, North part of Karnataka is facing rain deficit causing great concern to farmers.

Such contrast weather conditions have become common in recent years. One may wonder what is the real reason behind these floods and who is to be blamed. Generally we see people blaming Nature, God and cursing them for their loss. But in real, neither the Nature or God is responsible for these disasters but it is the man who has upset the Nature with all his misdeeds.

To be more specific, it is the timber mafia, politicians and land encroaches who are to be blamed. The Western ghats which start from Kerala and continue up to Gujarat are the life lines of Western parts of India in terms of bringing rain, maintaining ecological balance and weather conditions. Day by day, the forest wealth is being looted by these politicians and timber mafia which has resulted in major disturbance in ecological balance. The floods are not a result of overnight destruction of tress and forest, but an accumulation of years of deforestation over many years.

Justice Michael F Saldanha (retd), who is now an environmentalist wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of Karnataka blaming the timber mafia and politicians for such natural disasters. In his letter he has warned the CM of catastrophic effects if action is not taken against those responsible for destruction of Kodagu (Coorg) Cauvery belt which is the main reason for floods.

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In the letter, he said he was totally horrified to see the amount of devastation in the Cauvery basin. With huge areas today completely denuded due to the felling of crores of trees, Justice Saldanha has put the blame on the forest department. According to his enquiries, he wrote that this has happened in collusion with the forest department and the Kerala timber mafia. ‘Kerala timber mafia induce the estate owners and the government officials, discriminately fell the tress and transport the timber to Kerala,’ The experts have pointed out that unless all this green cover is immediately replaced, it will totally destroy the Cauvery basin,” he wrote. India Today Report 1

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His other focus was on the decreasing storage capacity in the catchment areas due to lakhs of tonnes of soil polluting the waters and moving into these areas due to lack of green cover. “It is necessary that the government sets up a high level committee to examine this issue and that immediate corrective action is taken.”

Kodagu as witnessed many heavy rainfalls before as it lies in the Western ghats area of Karnataka. It is very common to see heavy rains there, but this was the first time, the place experienced massive land slides, floods which ultimately destroyed the entire city. The major reason for land slides is the excessive deforestation which is happening in the Cauvery basin making the soil very lose and porus. For a place like Coorg which has many hill stations, the tress are the biggest support which holds the soil together. But lately, the growth of timber mafia has caused wide scale destruction of the forest area and the hill stations have turned barren. Obviously, when there is no support to hold the soil, the heavy rains has resulted in landslides destroying everything underneath.

It can be well remembered that just a month back, the mindless forest department had chopped more than 100 huge tress just because CM Kumaraswamy had visited the place. Now the same place has witnessed landslides and the entire road has been blocked.

It is the same case or even worse in kerala. Kerala which also receives heavy rain fall is always under the threat of land slides. The only thing that prevents land slides and soil erosion is the tress. But the greedy politicians and timber mafia have literally destroyed the forest region of Kerala which has resulted in major imbalance in ecology.

It was in the year 2013, a survey of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), headed by environmentalist Madhav Gadgil had submitted a report about the vast scale destruction of forest area in Kerala by politicians and had suggested to declare 37 per cent of the Ghats as ‘Ecologically Fragile’.  They had also suggested to classify most the areas as ecologically-sensitive zones (ESZs) by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), which was also known as the Gadgil Committee. Pointing out that the environment and ecology of the Western Ghats were under serious threat from human interference, the WGEEP had called for a spate of strict measures intended to protect the ranges, classified as a world heritage site by the United Nations. India Today Report 2

The committee had suggested that 140,000 kilometres of the Western Ghats be classified in three zones as per the requirement of environmental protection in the areas. In some areas, the committee recommended strong restrictions on mining and quarrying, use of land for non forest purposes, construction of high rises etc. India Today report 2

But soon after the report was submitted, the Congress government under Oman Chandy along with Christian Missionaries had opposed the implementation of the Gadgil committee report and threatened to physically harm those people who speak about it.

Yes, the Christian missionaries, timber mafia and politicians who were hand in glove opposed the move as their major business would have been affected if Gadgil report was implemented.

The Kerala State Government, had then moved to Supreme Court against Gadgil report, and sought stay on the implementation of NGT’s directive, received a snub on October 8 when the apex court dismissed its petition on the same day.

Then, The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, the state’s largest church, CPI, Congress had all joined hands together and went to the extent of threatening physically to all those who raised their voices against Timber mafia. “We will physically beat back anyone who comes to our area to implement this report” threatened PC George, MLA and chief whip of the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front government. India Today Report 2

MoEF had later constituted a high level Working Group, headed by space scientist G. Kasturirangan, to examine them. However, the Kasturirangan Committee generally endorsed the Gadgil report, suggesting only minor changes regarding the zonal classification. Gadgil had opposed Kasturirangan’s changes too, saying they too may harm the extremely fragile Ghats which could ill afford even minor interference. India Today Report 2

So, now we know those so called religious institutions, politicians and criminals are hand in glove in looting country’s resource which is the main reason why lakhs of people are suffering today. Since almost 15 days, the people of Kerala and Coorg are suffering in floods, but how many Christian missionaries who opposed Gadgil report, how many parties who went against him are speaking today?? They are not bothered about anyone, nor do they care if people die. All they care is about their business and money.

Power Punch


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