Kochi: The Save Western Ghats Movement (SWGM) has placed a manifesto reiterating the voter’s pledge that the electorate in the states of Western Ghats should support only those candidates who will agree with the demands in the manifesto.
This is the third manifesto being brought out by the SWGM in the last one decade. The previous two manifestos were issued during the 2009 and 2014 general elections.
The key demand raised in the manifesto called for declaring and protecting the Western Ghats as Water Towers of South India.
The other six demands included stopping wanton destruction by framing policies to conserve natural forests, bottom-up process of conservation by empowering Gram Sabhas, holding public hearings on Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports and avoiding undue politicisation and spread of misinformation around the reports, supportive policies to practice ecological agriculture and horticulture for a sustainable living, promotion of sustainable tourism, without big hotels and or housing complexes and supporting alternative energy policies that helps build local economies.
The third manifesto, giving a detailed account of the ecological importance of Western Ghats, has framed the seven demands by taking into account the following factors.
According to the SWGM the Western Ghats should have a minimum of 66 per cent of its geographical area under forests as against less than 30 per cent now. There is need to provide financial support to plant trees in revenue land, wildlife corridors.
Another key factor calls for the strict adherence to the norms of the ecologically sensitive areas as directed by the National Green Tribunal.
Land use changes from forests to build resorts and tourism infrastructure should be prohibited in forest areas.
The natural forests, free flowing rivers and wildlife habitats/corridors will be preserved for the security of coming generations. School curriculum should include information about importance of Western Ghats as a resource that provides water and ecological security and the need to conserve them.
Pledge to revive the MPs Forum on the Western Ghats, and hold regular meeting in the region to hear public voices, is another main theme in the manifesto.
Natural regeneration instead of mono culture plantations; water conservation instead of building dams; and free flow of rivers and not diversion of rivers and MNREGA to be used to meet ecological regeneration and local livelihoods needs of the particular region, for building decentralised green economy are some of the other key suggestions....