Better Environmentalist Suggests 4 Ways To Minimize Hurricane Damage
In the second part of the two-part series on Cyclones and Their Impact, we take a look at the suggestions of renowned environmentalist Dr Madhav Gadgil to save natural, man-made, social and financial capital along the konkan coast of Maharashtra.
First, Cylone Nisarg, then Tauktae. The trail of destruction left by the two strong storms of 2020 and 2021 has made it clear that governments (central / state / local) and civilians living along India’s west coast need to be more prepared for such natural disasters. .
A study, titled “Nisargache Thaiman (The Devastating Trail of Cyclone Nisarg), conducted under the leadership of renowned environmentalist Dr. Madhav Gadgil, specifies measures that must be taken for the conservation of natural, man-made, social and financial capital along the the Konkan region in Maharashtra.
“A development model that ignores the need to conserve natural resources will not help us achieve sustainable development. There is a direct correlation between the loss of nature and social disharmony. Policymakers should keep this in mind when thinking about new models of industrial development, ”said Dr Gadgil, who prepared the famous Western Ghat Ecological Expert Panel (WGEEP) report in 2011.
These are some of the important suggestions that will be submitted to the government during the first week of November, said Dr Gurudas Nulkar, lead author of “Nisargache Thaiman”.
Suggestion 1 – To conserve natural resources…
Big budget national projects like Sagar Mala, aimed at optimizing the use of seawater for transport, will cost nature dearly. In addition, residents will not benefit much from these infrastructure projects. The construction of huge ports can result in the unemployment of local fishermen, who would migrate to urban centers in search of small jobs.
Large infrastructure projects also require large-scale clearing of local vegetation, making sea coasts vulnerable to ocean disturbances. Instead of building large industries, which only benefit the rich and influential, the government should promote local and nature-friendly industries.
Currently, governments have adopted the ‘development by exclusion’ approach, keeping local communities out of the decision-making process. Failed projects like the Dabhol, Jaitapur, and Nanar Super Refinery power projects, among others, are examples of what happens when the almighty government fails to take out local communities.
The residents, especially the tribals, have traditional wisdom, which can help achieve sustainable development. Such communities should be taken away while considering the advancement of coastal regions, the report suggests.
The 2002 Biodiversity Law must be implemented in letter and in spirit. Appropriate attention should be given to nature education in schools so that children learn about how ecosystems work and the role of humans in saving or destroying them.
The natural vegetation of Undi, Nirgudi, Karanj, Karanj vel, Pilu and Noni trees should be pushed back along the coast for their ability to withstand strong ocean currents and winds.
Suggestion 2 – Reconstitute human capital…
Efforts must be made to generate sustainable jobs and industries that work in tandem with the environment. In fact, the report suggests, fishing and salt processing are the only two sustainable businesses for the Konkan region. There have been several cases of coconut palms falling on houses and causing extensive damage because the roots of coconut palms do not grow deep. Residents should be encouraged to seek alternative plantations, which are indigenous and more resistant to strong winds, but, at the same time, have financial value. Sadly, oil ghanis (the traditional method of extracting coconut oil) have come to an end and everyone is buying branded oil that has come a long way. This has come at the expense of local entrepreneurship and the loss of traditional skilled jobs, which must be revived.
About 50 years ago, large chemical industries were established in Mahad, Roha and Lote talukas. It is quite obvious that these factories were based on automation, so that they generated very few jobs for the inhabitants and also caused pollution of the nearby rivers and lakes. In the future, the government should plan to introduce small industries / cottages that are not completely dependent on automation and can withstand financial shocks, such as that caused by the COVID pandemic.
Bamboo cultivation has been a success in Sindhudurg district, with locals learning how to make bamboo objects and successfully market them. This is a sustainable business and there is a need to further develop such business models.
Likewise, traditional fishing should be preferred to mechanized fishing with large trawlers, which threaten the diversity of the oceans.
Suggestion 3 – To maintain social capital…
It’s hard to imagine how families, especially women, manage the kitchen after a natural disaster. The woman has to cook for the family and under these conditions it would be good for the government to proactively launch community kitchens, which can greatly help women cope with post-cyclonic conditions.
Post-cyclone financial constraints force all family members to seek income. Each village should have an equipped and substantial workforce of Anganwadi sevikas who can take care of the nutritional and educational needs of children left at home.
Suggestion 4 – Reconstitute artificial capital…
Roads, bridges are other constructions that suffered damage from the cyclone. The Mumbai-Goa sea route has already done enough damage to the diversity of the Konkan coast. The government intends to build around 30 to 40 bridges over the region’s streams, which is a clear call for more destruction, as scientists say the frequency and intensity of cyclones will only increase in the region. coming years. The government should consider the local ecosystem and its requirements before launching huge infrastructure projects.
Construction activities should be strictly prohibited in environmentally sensitive areas, which are susceptible to landslides or flooding.
The government must be aware that huge infrastructure projects destroy trees and habitats for countless birds and insects, thereby affecting biodiversity and weakening nature’s ability to recover from calamities. Environmental impact assessment should be a must before planning any project.
Part 1: Do cyclones only affect life and property? It’s time to assess the impact on nature, society
Tourism is big business in Konkan. However, the way it looks is damaging to the environment. Training locals to understand the richness of local flora and fauna and giving them guide jobs will not only provide employment but also translate into responsible tourism.
If the suggestions mentioned above are implemented in all sincerity, the financial losses can be minimized. “In fact, it could very well lead to building a new economy that is more sustainable and resilient to climate change,” concludes Dr. Gadgil.