Laity group sees “conspiracy” in Madhav Gadgil-chaired Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP)

January 24, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Church leaders have been opposing the report on the ground that its implementation will adversely affect millions of their people living and farming in the hilly regions of Western Ghats.

The Madhav Gadgil panel report on Western Ghats

Kerala, January 20, 2013: An organization of Syro-Malabar lay people in Kerala has named certain reputed national organization, saying attempts to implement the Madhav Gadgil environmental report is an “international conspiracy.”

The criticism against Madhav Gadgil-chaired Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report is made in an editorial of Laity Voice, titled ‘International conspiracy behind Madhav Gadgil report.”

The magazine’s chief editor V C Sebastian claims that organizations like the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Salim Ali Foundation and Ashoka Trust for Research Organisation (ATREE) had received global funds to implement the report. The editorial is based on a probe conducted by a laity commission appointed by the church to study the issue.

The probe had found that organizations like “ATREE received 4.5 million dollars as funds from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, an international conservation body which has members like the European Commission and World Bank from 2007 onwards.”

“Similarly, BNHS, which got assistance from Fullbright Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund, has been conducting workshops in different parts of Kerala on Western Ghats from December 2012 onwards,” the editorial points out.

On the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and National History Foundation, the edit said that Dr V S Vijayan, the honorary chairman, and his wife Dr Lata, has only one agenda that is to implement Gadgil report stating that “the source of funds for this organization is unimaginable for ordinary people.”

The Church leaders has been opposing the report on the ground that its implementation will adversely affect millions of its people living and farming in the hilly regions of Western Ghats.

Environmental activist and BNHS board member Sumaira Abdulali said that it is shocking that the Church’s mouthpiece has come with such false statement on one of the oldest and premier environmental research organizations in the country.

“The government of India had appointed Dr Madhav Gadgil to prepare a report and he came out with a comprehensive report to conserve the Western Ghats and the livelihood of the local communities living there. I cannot understand how USA is involved in it. Even before there is a proper debate on the report, there have been moves from many quarters to reject it outright,” Abdulali said.

Meanwhile, Vijayan said that the laity should look into how funds are being utilized by all these organizations correctly. “These are funds provided for various research projects and conservation activities at the ground level. It is easy to mislead people but the reality is that all these organizations stand for the real development of the local communities in eco-fragile regions,” he said.

ATREE project coordinator Jojo T D said that his organization has been doing conservation work along the Western Ghats right from 2007.

“In fact, ATREE began with a mission to conserve some of the last remaining eco-fragile regions like the Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats. We, like BNHS, have been involved in conducting several training and awareness programmes on ecology and environment. It is absurd to say that we had in anyway influenced the Gadgil report,” Jojo said.

– times of india

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