Was the Kerala deluge avoidable? Eminent scientist says disaster partly ‘man-made’

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New Delhi | Published: August 20, 2018 4:44:50 PM

Scientist Madhav Gadgil had headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010. Gadgil categorically claimed that "Had proper steps been taken, the scale of the disaster would have been nowhere near what it is today".

kerala floodAs Kerala stands witness to a devastating flood, one of the worst in the state’s history, an expert, who headed a central government panel during Congress-led UPA-2 in 2010, has claimed that part of the disaster in Kerala was “man made”

Every time there is loss of life or damage to property due to a natural calamity in our country, questions are raised over preparedness and whether the disaster could have been averted. As Kerala stands witness to a devastating flood, one of the worst in the state’s history, an expert, who headed a central government panel during Congress-led UPA-2 in 2010, has claimed that part of the disaster in Kerala was “man made”, The Indian Express reported.

Scientist Madhav Gadgil had headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010. Gadgil categorically claimed that “Had proper steps been taken, the scale of the disaster would have been nowhere near what it is today”.

“Yes, there is an intense rainfall event which has caused this. But I am quite convinced that the last several years’ developments in the state have materially compromised its ability to deal with events like this and greatly increased the magnitude of the suffering that we are seeing today,” Gadgil was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

In 2011, the Gadgil-led panel had submitted a report that consisted of measures for preserving ecologically fragile Western Ghats region spreading across six states, including Kerala. The Environment Ministry in 2017 had notified 57,000 sq km of the Western Ghats as an ecologically sensitive area. It had banned all mining activities, large constructions, thermal power plants, and highly polluting industries in that area. Of the area that was finally notified, only 9,993.7 sq km was in Kerala.

“In fact, it is not even a question of the report not being accepted or the recommendations being ignored. If the governments had just followed the law, if there was good governance, a disaster of this proportion could have been avoided,” Gadgil said.

“Unfortunately, our state governments are in the grip of, and in collusion with, vested interests that do not want any environmental laws to be implemented, and the local communities to be empowered. Our recommendations would have been accepted in any law-abiding society that believes in good governance. Unfortunately, we have a lawless society and extremely poor governance,” Gadgil was quoted as saying.

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