Following the path of child activists for climate change – from Greta Thunberg to Ridhima Pandey – a few children from South India are now taking a step towards protecting their environment. And their efforts are seeing success too.
In fact, the Supreme Court has taken action on their petition that sought for reinstating the recommendations of Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) for the protection of Western Ghats. It has issued notice on the same to six States – Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat –which Western Ghats is spread over, as well as to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Notably, seven minors were among the 23 petitioners – that included NGOs like Goa Foundation and River Research Centre (Kerala) – seeking the apex court’s intervention. One of the minors is a young girl named M.Kaviya, as per media reports.
The petition sought to allow only the activities found permissible by the WGEEP, in specified areas, and restrict activities such as mining and quarrying in the region. The WGEEP, headed by renowned ecologist Madhav Gadgil, was appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It filed the report, popularly known as the Gadgil report, in 2011. Among other recommendations was one for the setting up of Western Ghats Ecology Authority, which never shaped up. The report was also criticised for being “too environmental-friendly” and being “out of touch with reality.”
However, the latest call for action brings a ray of hope. Claude Alvares, Director of Goa Foundation, was quoted saying that they are hoping for SC’s orders “that will result in an effective, sustainable and credible conservation regime for the Western Ghats, its diverse ecosystems and ecologically sensitive zones.” According to him, about 200 million people are dependent on Western Ghats, and the entire future of Southern India is linked with its healthy survival.