A series of programmes to create awareness and gather support for the implementation of the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report will begin in the district with a public discussion at Kudremukh National Park near Aladangady in Belthangady taluk on April 1.
Suma Nagesh from Chikmagalur-based Save Democracy Forum told presspersons here on Monday that the programme would dispel myths about the report among forest-dwellers, while highlighting the “negative” aspects of the K. Kasturirangan Commission report that was commissioned to replace the Gadgil panel report.
“The Gadgil panel report sought to comprehensively conserve the Western Ghats, which is a bio-diversity hotspot. The government conveniently used the Kasturirangan report to reject the Gadgil report. We have petitioned the President to reconsider the Gadgil committee report, while also creating awareness among the tribal people and forest-dwellers about the report,” said Mr. Nagesh, referring to a letter written to Pranab Mukherjee on March 15.
He blamed vested interests, industrial lobbies, and political representatives for creating fear among farmers about displacement if the reports were implemented.
“The only fear is that mining and industries will shut down. The Gadgil panel report clearly states that forest-dwellers were needed in conservation projects and it does not advocate for their displacement,” he said.
The meet will also discuss the government’s “surreptitious attempts” at displacing tribal people from KNP, said Harish Malekudiya, a resident of Aladangady.
“The government refuses to give us basic amenities, while attempting to lure us with money to leave our homes. We don’t want to shift elsewhere, but the government is making it difficult to stay on,” he said.
Mr. Gadgil himself will address the Kudremukh forest-dwellers — some of whom are fighting against displacement — on April 1.
Apart from him, activist S.R. Hiremath and writer Na. D’Souza, who had criticised the government on their “inactivity” over conserving the ghats, are expected to participate. The group will travel around the six States through which the Western Ghats traverses, and distribute materials and books in local languages elaborating on the need to implement the WGEEP report.
An integral part of the organisation’s demand is the scrapping of the Yettinahole project, which they called a hasty decision that endangers the ghats.