Protecting Kodagu: ‘One Last Chance’ campaign to save Kodagu launched
A group of concerned people from Kodagu has launched a ‘Save Kodagu’ campaign. The following is the text of the appeal:
“We all wanted to do something to Kodagu during our lifetime, isn’t it…? And most of you have never had a chance to support your eagerness and excitement to work for Kodagu. Well, you have one which we might term as ‘One Last Chance’ to save Kodagu.
What is the Chance?: By all your wishes and efforts, Kodagu could be declared as an ‘eco sensitive zone’ by the Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel. This would be a blessing to Kodagu if it is notified as one.
What is an eco sensitive zone?: The Environment Protection Act of 1986 (Section 3 and 5), empowers the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to take all measures that it feels are necessary for protecting and improving the quality of the environment and to prevent and control environmental pollution.
Any location/zone that is ecologically important which is endangered is eligible to be declared as an eco sensitive zone (after it meets the required criteria). This also includes the catchment areas and water sheds which feeds the rivers. Some of the areas that are already declared as eco sensitive zone are – Mount Abu, Sultanpur, Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani, Aravalli, Matheran to name a few.
Problems faced by Kodagu: The Kodagu landscape is under sever threat and stress due to rapid and unplanned urbanization, mass influx of tourists, and large scale encroachments of river banks, sacred groves and forest lands. Apart from these dangers, a number of projects such as railway lines, power lines and highways are being planned. These projects are for the benefit of neighbouring areas, but will rip tiny Kodagu apart and will also lead to loss of our lands and assets.
What happens if Kodagu is notified as an eco sensitive zone?:
Urbanisation: It would restrict the extension of existing town/city limits without approval of monitoring body, restriction on conversion of wet lands and coffee plantations into commercial sites for development of residential layouts or other non-agricultural purposes and restriction on heights of buildings and on number of storeys.
Tourism: Constitution of a tourism regulatory body. A cap on issue of licenses for construction of any new tourist resort or expansion of existing facilities, until a complete review is carried out with regard to carrying capacity and effects of tourism and a total ban on new tourist resorts within 10 Km of Protected Areas.
Immigration: Since this would restrict the conversion of lands and tourism, it automatically reduces the immigration and investment/interest by outsiders in Kodagu.
Encroachments: Formation of core committee to look into encroachments. This should include revenue and forest department officials. Proper boundary demarcation of forest areas, river banks and sacred groves would be done. It also includes the removal of encroachments from forests, river banks and sacred groves.
Land stability: Building permission would be denied on hill sides with slopes in excess of a prescribed incline. Regulations on road construction in hills should ensure that there is minimal disturbance to hill slopes. No fresh licenses shall be issued for mining or quarrying. Renewal of existing leases will be subjected to approval from the monitoring committee.
Forest cover: Setting up an Eco-TA unit for Kodagu. Such units are carrying out excellent work in other regions of India. The manpower is from retired Defence service personnel, with a core team of serving army officers, junior commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers. The unit in Kodagu would take up key tasks like prevention of poaching and illegal logging and raising nurseries for saplings of indigenous tree species.
Pollution and water contamination: Only non-polluting industries to be permitted to function. All industries and towns would have proper sewage treatment facilities. At present, untreated raw sewage is released directly into rivers and streams that feed the tributaries to river Cauvery. Proper garbage and disposal and waste management facilities would be set up in towns
Livelihood and financial security: Setting up agro/plantation based industries in Kodagu, such as coffee and pepper processing plants, fruit canning units, etc. Implementing schemes related to animal husbandry, bee keeping, floriculture etc., with sizeable subsidies for the local farmers. Providing assistance for GI certification of Kodagu produce to include Kodagu coffee and Kodagu honey.
What can you do?:
To attain the eco sensitive zone status, 50% priority is given to the criteria that need to be met as per the Environment Act for and the other 50% is for the public opinion. We all could express in favour of this status and the panel would definitely consider our views in favour of the status for Kodagu.
All you got to do is send an e-mail requesting the ‘Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel’ that Kodagu should be notified as an eco sensitive zone. The appeal should be addressed to the Chairman and members of Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel. One mail from you would be considered to be a vote in favour of Kodagu being notified as an eco sensitive zone. Please draft the mail in your own words requesting the above.
Things to note while drafting the e-mail:
Email to be sent to email@example.com and with copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mail to be addressed to the Chairman and members of ‘Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel’.
Please do mention your Kodagu mailing address in the mail as any other address would be considered as invalid. Draft the mail in your own words requesting the Chairman/Panel to Notify Kodagu as an eco sensitive zone with immediate effect.
The Panel will be sending their 1st draft by the end of March,2011, and the final decision will be taken by June, 2011. Kavery Sene, led by Ravi Chengappa has done most of the ground work on this, assisted by other associations in Kodagu.”
For any clarification, people from Kodagu could get in touch with:
Col. CP Muthanna – email@example.com
Kademada Poovanna – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mundanda Indu Mandanna – email@example.com
Suraaj Machaiah – firstname.lastname@example.org