Recently a public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court to safeguard natural resources in the Eastern and Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu. The PIL also seeks to constitute a permanent body for taking steps to safeguard natural resources in the region.
Arguments put forward by the petitioner
- Improper implementation of legislations
- Most reserve forest areas in these hills were protected by the Forest Department under the Tamil Nadu Forest Act of 1982 and Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
- The Tamil Nadu Hill Areas (Preservation of Trees) Act of 1955 is in force in certain parts of these hills but it is not implemented effectively in the absence of popular support.
- All steps taken so far remain only on paper:
- The recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan committees have not been implemented in letter and spirit.
- Misutilisation and mismanagement of natural resources in Tamil Nadu:
- According to petitioners not only by the administrators but also by the public at large is mismanaging the natural resources of the biodiverse region.
- The exploitation of the loopholes in the existing legislation:
- The protection of the trees in private holdings has become a challenge in the region.
- Indiscriminate felling of trees has made the hills of the Eastern Ghats barren, its streams have run dry and the biodiversity is disappearing gradually.
- Plantation and Hunting:
- Large-scale plantations of coffee, tea and orchards have been raised in these hills.
- Aromatic and valuable trees like sandals are removed illegally.
- Despite the Wildlife Protection Act, hunting takes place in some pockets.
- The forests are getting degraded because of the illicit collection of firewood, illicit grazing and illicit felling of trees.
Only if an effective strategy for the eco-development of these regions is developed by involving the local people, the flora, fauna and other natural resources of Eastern and the Western Ghats can be protected. Otherwise, the future of these biodiverse regions will be only an illusion.
Image Source: DTE