Activist state

Karnataka: Environmentalists question government’s ill-considered actions as biodiversity hotspot state heads for climate catastrophe

Bangalore, November 12: Karnataka, which is recognized as one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots and one of four in India, is heading for climate catastrophe, environmentalists warn.

Ecologist and founding member of the Ecological Security Foundation, Dr AN Yallappa Reddy, said Karnataka was already beginning to witness a climate catastrophe. Maharashtra likely to move from orange to red zone for aerosol pollution in 2023, study finds; Alarming health issues.

“Karnataka has been facing a climatic disaster. This happened recently in Bengaluru. The Western Ghats have been eroded by floods. Not a word has been said about what was declared at the UN during COP-27,” said Yallappa Reddy.

The state government recently denoted 120 square kilometers of Bannerghatta National Park forests on the outskirts of Bengaluru for development, it says.

Detailing the ongoing destruction of forest cover in the state, Yallappa Reddy said that recently Swami Malai and Devaragudda, one of the richest forest areas, was leased to Kudremukh for 50 years by the government.

“Ansi National Park in the Kali Tiger Project area, which took shape during my tenure as Conservator of Forests, is one of the richest areas in the world. A broad-gauge railway, national highway and a port are being developed for which lakhs and lakhs of trees are cut,” he said.

For the Hubli-Karwar railway line, five lakh trees in virgin forests are cut down for importing coal and exporting mines. For the Mekedatu project, 3,000 to 4,000 acres of Cauvery Sanctuary land will be flooded to provide water to Bengaluru, Reddy informed.

“The 108ft tall statue of the founder of Bengaluru, Kempe Gowda, is being built by the state government. I don’t know with what moral right they built it. Kempe Gowda sacrificed his daughter-in-law to save a lake in Bengaluru.Lakes are being destroyed, mini forests destroyed in Bangalore.Aisles of 500-700 year old trees have been cut.Five years ago five to six lakh trees have been cut nothing than in Bangalore,” he said.

Yallappa Reddy said all five commitments made at COP-26 and COP-27 have been totally violated.

According to official data, Karnataka is the sixth largest state in India, accounting for 5.83% of the country’s geographical area. The state is known for its rich biodiversity. The evergreen forests of the Western Ghats cover about 60% of the total forest area. The Registered Forest Area (RFA) in the state is 38,284 square km.

Karnataka is home to around 10% of the country’s tiger population and 25% of the elephant population.

Karnataka ranks fourth among the top five states in terms of increase in forest cover. Karnataka’s forest cover is about 22.61% of the state’s geographical area, according to the State of India’s Forest Report (ISFR), 2021, published by the Forest Survey of India.

However, the situation looks grim, says Yallappa Reddy. Almost 50% of the Ballary district has been plundered by mining, illegal and legal. “They impose fines and regularize forest encroachments, regularize the destruction of biodiversity,” he said.

Environmental activist SR Hiremath, who single-handedly took on the mining mafia resulting in the imprisonment of powerful mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy, argued that the government should have a policy allowing mining in the minimum level. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates chic Terminal 2 at Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore (see photos and video).

Companies that engage in mining should be held responsible for recreating the landscape that existed before mining. Intergenerational equity is only possible if action is taken, he said.

“Otherwise, we all know about the extinction of the dinosaurs. This is the sixth extinction and human beings are the first to go extinct. We are going towards it. Greed must be contained,” Hiremath stressed.

“The Supreme Court has taken a noble decision by not granting the request of the Federation of Indian Mining Industry (FIMI) for the mining cap to be removed. Unfortunately, the authorities concerned, the state governments as well as the central government said the cap should be removed,” he said.

Yathish Baigampadi, an activist from the Karnataka coast, said that while implementing any plan in the coastal region, the government does not bother to consider the experience of the fishermen. The landscape modifies the coasts. Shorelines that should not be altered are disturbed.

Neeraj Kamat, environmentalist and host of Uttista Bharata, believed that there should be a balance between development and environmental preservation. Germany and France, which have shut down nuclear power plants, now depend on Russia for fuel and prices have risen 100%. People feel the heat, he says.

The country has a population of 140 crores and a price hike of Rs 500 would hit those earning between Rs 15,000 and Rs 30,000 hard. balance is important,” Kamat said.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on November 12, 2022 at 10:56am IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle , log in to our website