A citizen’s manifesto on Western Ghats is released by the Save Western Ghat Campaign. Considering the importance of this mountain region as a “gateway to monsoons and hotspot of biodiversity” it gives an overall strategy to address the burning issues of the region. They are:
· Protect the natural forests to maintain the water security of south India, especially the Rivers like Cavery, Tungabhadra and Krishna. This will help in attaining the power security for the region to generate more hydro power.
· Regenerate the forests by indigenous species rather than exotic species.
· Forest dwellers should not be resettled for establishing National Park, Forest Right Act and community right to collect forest produce should be given to local people.
· Dam building across the Rivers in Western Ghats needs to be stopped and a review of existing dams need to be done at the earliest.
· National Rural Employment Guarantee Act should be implemented specifically for ecological rehabilitation in Western Ghats.
· Western Ghats needs to be declared as GM free zone. As it is on the centers of biodiversity for numerous plants, agricultural crops, and wild products that provide food security, genetic manipulation will pollute the biodiversity hotspot threatening the food security.
· A series of mega thermal power plants are being established in Konkan and west coast. This will lead to increased climate change causing changes in micro climate affecting the cultivation of famous “Alphosno” mangoes.
There are 32 parliamentary constituencies coming under Wesern Ghats region from Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The activists of Save Western Ghats will campaign in these constituencies impressing upon major political parties as well as candidates to work towards meeting these demands.
The activists will also meet the prospective candidates and get the letter singed form them assuring their support to work towards holistic policies to conserve the Western Ghats and to give voice to the voiceless Sahyadri Mountains. Once elected they would help to form a lobbying group called MPs Forum for Western Ghats in Lok Sabha and for reforming the polices that impact the region.
This is the first time a people’s manifesto is being issued on ecologically important mountain range like Westen Ghats. This was prepared after consulting 85 organisations, and 8000 people from five states. We hope to get support form all the major political parties contesting from this region.
Convener, Save Western Ghats Campaign
Press Release issued on behalf of Save Western Ghat Camaign
April, 2009, Bangalore