Kozhikode: Gone are the days the settler community considered Madhav Gadgil a foe who came to punish them.
The recurring natural calamities in the Western Ghats has changed their opinion. They now consider him a hero who predicted the changed character of the region and gave out warnings much in advance to the farming folk though they chose to ignore it.
The warning of Madhav Gadgil that within five years nature would turn furious in the Western Ghats, making life miserable for Keralites, was taken with much fury and contempt by the farming community. The church had even unleashed a war of sorts against him and widespread arson was unleashed in the agitations headed by the Thamarassery diocese of Roman Catholic Church. Gadgil was then only the darling of a small group of environmentalists.
In 2012 to 2014 during his visits to Kannur, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts, there were only a few ears open to him. Many were against him, that too in public. At various places Mr Gadgil had faced stiff protest and furious slogans, branding him as anti-farmer and his report was portrayed as part of an agenda against farmers.
But now instead of environmentalists, farmers’ organisations and political parities are demanding his programme. The organisers are also requesting him to extend the days of his visit scheduled to begin on September 4.
According to Green activist Vinod Payyada of Kannur who is coordinating the visit of Gadgil, seven years down the line there is a total change in the approach of people towards Gadgil. “Once ardent protesters, the farmers of Iritty-Peravoor region now demand for his programme,” he said. “As a goodwill gesture, Mr Gadgil had expressed willingness to meet the farmers during his visit to Kannur at Kelakam near Iritty,” he said.
The political leaders and heads of local bodies nestled close to the Western Ghat region are also eager to give ear to his words as well as advise. As per his plan, Gadgil will arrive at Kottakkal for a programme on September 4, and visit the landslide hit zones of Kavalappara in Malappuram the same day and also visit Puthumala in Meppadi village panchayat in Wayanad on September 5 and also attend a workshop on Community Rights over Natural Resources’ at Kannur on September 6.
Meppadi panchayat president K.K. Sahad told this newspaper that he would try to arrange a discussion forum with Mr Gadgil to seek his advice while planning the future developments of the ecologically sensitive zones of the village panchayat.