Save Western Ghats Movement aims to gather eco-activists under one roof
The raging social media debates surrounding the recent murder of Adivasi Madhu has taken the dialogue beyond apologies. Millennials—from within the forest dwelling communities and without—are raising the concern of how it was an eventuality of unchecked forest encroachments by the majoritarian society.
Observing the 30th anniversary of a 100-day walk from Kanyakumari to Goa in 1987, Save Western Ghats Movement also wants to bring to the limelight man’s intrusion into the eco-sensitive regions of the Sahyadris in the name of ‘development’.
“The projects and studies triggered by the walk 30 years ago were very relevant in leading up to the constitution of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel. With the reports staying more on paper than in implementation, it’s essential to recreate the momentum of the older event and prompt a social undertaking bringing together the various scattered activities that have been addressing the environmental issues in the region,” informs Vinod Koshy, a social worker hailing from Pathanamthitta.
We speak to the organisers as eco-warriors from six states are gathering in Kochi to sketch out a future working plan.
Awakening a movement
Older than even the Himalayas, the mountain ranges have been declared as one of the world’s eight ecological hotspots. Hence the movement—which is currently a people’s initiative and not a registered entity—aims to be as inclusive as possible to bring together folks involved in various struggles against issues from unscientific development and farming to mining and wetland invasion.
“We dislike the term ‘alternative’ being used for progressive and eco-friendly endeavours. We believe that such ideas should come into the mainstream rather than be sidelined as substitutes,” says another organiser C D Sunish hailing from Wayanad, who advocates bamboo infrastructure and was a part of the 1987 march.
The promoters are also planning to rope in various ‘alternative’ voices from fields like organic farming, sustainable energy sources, and education.Beyond generating progressive practices, the initiative also plans to push for positive outcomes in pending ecology-related legal files.
Triggered by recent meetings in states like Goa, the two-day convention in Kochi will feature eminent figures including ex-minister Jairam Ramesh and activists like Medha Patkar and Claude Alvares.
Along with book releases on eco-conservation, the event will be held at Maharaja’s College in an attempt to welcome millennials to the cause.
“To raise a generation of youngsters who are aware of issues faced by our land, we’re planning to reach out to educational institutions around the state through a campaign. We’re also gathering young researchers who are working in fields related to
ecology,” concludes Vinod.
At Maharaja’s College. On March 3-4.