Madhav Gadgil, once a foe, now a friend for Wayanad

The hilly district of Wayanad, which once witnessed strong protests against noted ecologist Madhav Gadgil for his report on protecting the Western Ghats, has now welcomed him with open arms. This change comes after the back-to-back calamities the region has faced, which has convinced the people of the need to protect the region. 

As Gadgil came down to deliver a talk on 'Restoration of Western Ghats and Future of Wayanad' on Thursday, people thronged the venue to hear the steps that need to be taken to protecting the hills and mountains from man-made disasters.

Gadgil also clarified that the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel headed by him did not moot any fresh law to impose curbs on people at Western Ghats, but only urged that existing laws need to be enforced stringently.

He also stressed on the need for local people's participation in the local development planning and execution. The degradation of the vegetation of the Western Ghats were caused not by the local community who depend on it for livelihood, but by the profit-driven exploitation, he said.  

Gadgil, who visited some of the recent landslide-hit areas of Wayanad, said that the degradation of the original vegetation and irrational development were the prime reasons for the frequent landslides. The original vegetation has species of plants which bind sand properly, he said, rejecting the finding of experts that soil piping led to landslides.

Wayanad Nature Protection Group president N Badushah, one of the key organisers of the talk, said that the huge participation of local people from various fields reflected that the people of Wayanad were now convinced of the need for protecting nature to avoid recurrence of calamities. Local farmers, traders and politicians thronged in to hear from Madhav Gadgil, he said.

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