Manifestos ignore environmental issues, say conservationists

Manifestos ignore environmental issues, say conservationists

The election manifestos of all major political parties seem to have ignored the need to protect the Western Ghats, much against the promise candidates made to voters independently.

This has irked Forest department officials and conservationists, who provided all required information to candidates on the man-animal conflict and environmental projects that affect the state.

"The political parties have forgotten all about the Western Ghats. They have listed general and on-going projects in their manifestos just to please voters. But they serve no purpose," said a forest department official.

He said many sitting MLAs and ministers approached the department in March for statistics on man-animal deaths and projects. "Candidates had promised voters to resolve man-animal conflict in their constituencies. It then seemed like they realised the severity of the problem," another forest department official from Mysuru said.

The BJP in its manifesto has listed encroachment prevention, utilisation of state compensatory afforestation fund and establishment of forest produce tracking system. The Congress mentions to increase forest cover to 33% and launch 'Vana Kaval Yojane' to reduce conflicts. The JD(S) speaks of bringing in transparency in issuing mining leases.

"The department is already working on these listed projects. In fact, none spoke on closing national highways at night passing through forest patches and creating buffer zones around forests," the official said.

According to data prepared by the Forest department, maximum elephant conflict cases have been reported from Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Bengaluru Rural, Kolar and Ramanagaram districts, while a maximum number of cases of leopard conflict are reported from Kolar, Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, Ballari, Chikkamagaluru, Tumakuru and Chitradurga regions. Sloth bear problems are reported from Tumakuru, Davangere, Chitradurga and Ballari.

The department had listed many issues like mining in Ballari, around Bannerghatta National Park and Mandur, railway lines and highways cutting across forest patches like Shiradi Ghat, Shishila-Byrapura road project in Chikkamagaluru, declaring Kudremukh as a tiger reserve and preserving the 320-km coastline.