Kannur: Opposition leader VD Satheesan has said that Kerala should take environmental issues like low pressure, heavy rains, floods and landslides seriously and need in-depth study and discussion in this regard. He was talking to reporters about the flood situation in the state and the failures in dealing with it. Satheesan also clarified his views on the environment. To those revelations.
‘Kerala is at risk of floods. Every year, Kerala becomes more and more environmentally sensitive. Farmers are the ones who have to bear the brunt of the illegal quarries in the Western Ghats. They are the real victims of environmental impact. Their lives and property are in danger. Their crops, farms and houses are being destroyed. At this point, the time has come for us to change our minds. The Gadgil Committee report was rejected by the state government. It doesn’t matter if we discuss it now .’- Satheesan said.
Is the Gadgil Committee report being implemented?
I am not in controversy over the Gadgil report. Some media people want me to comment on the implementation of the Gadgil report and make it controversial. I do not know. Their question is for breaking news. That is childish. The Western Ghats need to be protected and the farmer needs to be protected. My need for that is in-depth study and discussion
Since the Gadgil Committee rejected the report, there is no point in holding further discussions based on it. It requires long-term remedial action, including its positive recommendations. When it comes to the environment, there are those who accuse it of being anti-farmer. The Gadgil Committee report suggested that the respective local bodies discuss and take remedial action.
The recommendations in the report were supported by those including me that day. However, there was a false propaganda in the hilly areas that the Gadgil report was completely anti-farmer. Many believed it. The proposal to build eco-friendly houses was distorted to require green paint for the house. There was a campaign not to raise more than 2 cows. The report suggested that agriculture and animal husbandry should go hand in hand.
Challenges facing Kerala?
Climate change has put Kerala at risk in the last three years. Until 5 years ago, I thought that climate change would affect Kerala in two generations. But not so. Climate change has hit the backyard. It is starting to affect everyone. It has no hills, no rivers, no beaches. We need a serious discussion on climate change.
Not criticizing the government. Action must be taken to save Kerala. Man suffers both on the coast and on the hills. The Quarry Mafia is plundering the natural resources of Kerala in front of the farmers. The government should control illegal quarries. The first step is to study how much rock can be extracted from the hills of the Western Ghats without harming the environment. It should be discussed. Quarry licenses are being issued to everyone so that no one can take them away.
Did the Chief Minister put forward the Dutch model of Room for River?
Has the government considered how much stone and soil it will take to complete the Vizhinjam port? With the implementation of K Rail, Kerala will be fortified and separated. Speaking on the Dutch model of Room for River, the Chief Minister did not even think about the environmental impact of the K Rail project on Kerala. K Rail is a project that separates Kerala by building a wall.
After 300 km, the rail goes up to a height of 10 to 30 feet above the ground. Elsewhere the mountain will be dug. Walls should be 30 feet high on both sides where the passage is level. With such a large structure, streams, rivers and canals will be blocked. There will be flooding. A comprehensive EIA should be conducted on the project. It must be done before the land is acquired.
Wasn’t the UDF against the sand mining in Pampa?
The UDF questioned and stopped the sand mining in Pampa, not the irregularities and corruption in its name. Kerala is prone to floods even if it rains for hours. After the floods of 2018, all the rivers in Kerala were covered with mud and sand. No attempt has been made to change that for 3 years. Attempts failed. Even low-lying areas are prone to flooding.
Is it right to isolate the government during floods?
It does not isolate or criticize the government during floods. In 2018, when the dam was opened, it was announced that the Paravur region would be flooded to a height of one meter. But when the water reached the river, the height was 6 meters. This is our calculation. Must be accurate study. My constituency suffered a lot in the 2018 floods. 1.5 lakh people were in camps. More than 30,000 people were evacuated through rescue operations. 70,000 homes were flooded.
Are they all back to normal life? But I did my own study with the experts at IIT Mumbai and got to know exactly where and how the floods would affect me. If the river rises one or two or three feet, I know exactly how far it will go today. Rehabilitation is being carried out in my constituency accordingly. This, in turn, has been very beneficial in 2019. This time we are facing the flood in the same way. This is a matter for one constituency only. What is the obstacle to do this all over Kerala?
The example of Odisha in this regard is remarkable. In Odisha, which was hit by a cyclone in 1988 that killed millions of people and caused massive damage, only two people died in 2018 when the worst cyclone hit. They were able to have a precise plan and system for what to do. UDF activists are actively involved in relief work in the state. But the government needs to plan long-term plans with foresight.
Did the Disaster Management Authority fall short in this time of low pressure warning?
More coordinated and energetic action is needed to deal with disasters in the state. The State Disaster Management Authority is a disaster. Earlier this month, foreign agencies, including the US space agency NASA, had warned of heavy rains in Kerala as part of the low pressure area in the Arabian Sea. Two days ago, the Indian Meteorological Department had forecast low pressure between Kochi and Kozhikode.
There is evidence for all this. But the State Disaster Management Authority’s red alert came an hour and a half after the tornado and landslide. Defects in warning should be investigated. Earlier, it was demanded that the State Disaster Management Authority be dissolved and a new system be put in place. It is a system without a system.
Do not repeat the mistake of 2018. Idamalayar and Idukki dams should not be opened together. When opening dams, tidal time and rainfall in catchment areas and river basins should be considered. When the sea does not contain water, the inflow of water from the dam can cause flooding in the river basins. Dam management instructions should be strictly followed. What is needed here are long-term solutions. Unfortunately, even after the 2018 floods, there does not seem to have been any consultation or action in this regard.
Were any proposals made to amend the Central Forest Act?
Provided. Kerala Forest Law is strong. An amendment has been submitted to prevent proposals to add water to it.
English Summary: V D Satheesan on environmental issues