Kagodu Thimmappa earlier said, “Of what use are trees if man does not exist?"

A Karnataka Minister thinks deforestation is no big deal and he needs some lessonsPTI photo
Blog Green Cover Wednesday, November 09, 2016 - 13:00

The Minister for Revenue and Muzrai of the Government of Karnatata, Kagodu Thimmappa, has been a protector of native farmers’ cultivating inside forests, particularly in Malenadu region including Shivamogga. But for a man who is credited with safeguarding farmer rights, his recent and rather bizarre statements on environment expose the lack of scientific temper in our governments.

Responding to a question on felling of trees in the forest areas by cash-crop cultivators in the Western Ghats, Thimmappa recently said, “Let water disappear from the Western Ghats. We will bring water from the sea. Water depletion is happening not due to forest felling. It is a natural cycle that has been occurring since millions of years.”

If that gets your goat, wait till read what he said next: “Of what use are trees if man does not exist? Do you want the world to be ruled by trees and deer? Is that okay with you?”

One would think that in 2016, a minister of an elected government would need explanation, like he is a school child, that environmentalists throughout the world agree that deforestation leads to increase in carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, which affects the cloud cover, and is responsible for rainfall. One would, of course, be wrong.

So here are some lessons for the minister, and a timely reminder for the rest of us. 

An analysis on the impact of land cover and changes in vegetation on local temperature and rainfall in the Western Ghats conducted by the Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, shows a decreasing trend in the rainfall pattern from 2013 towards 2020.

Overall forest loss in Western Ghats was estimated as 33,579 km2 (35.3% of the total forest) from 1920’s to 2013, according to a study by The Journal of Earth System Science conducted in 2016. The paper claims to have not found records beyond the said period.

study by the Indian Institute of Science on forest land in Shivamogga states that over one lakh acres of forest land has been hacked to facilitate the cultivation of cash crops.

And apparently, we mess it up even when we want to conserve the environment. There have also been various media reports which claim that miners in Bellary have occupied tribal land in the guise of forest rejuvenation. 

The honourable minister’s statements seem funny. But you think about it, and you realize they are actually pretty scary. These statements are being made by a minister who is responsible for policy decisions. And the insipid ignorance of his understanding of important issues. When questioned about rampant deforestation for cultivation of cash crops like ginger, he said, “Utter rubbish. I am from that region. I know. Perhaps, less than one per cent people who came from Kerala might have indulged in cultivation in Khuski land. Do these scientists know what I know?”

According to reports, over 400 hectares (ha) of forestland in Malenadu is under ginger cultivation. In fact, Thimmappa refuted a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science between 2012-2016, which states that over one lakh acres of forest land has either been destroyed or encroached up on in Shivamogga alone.

In making statements which fly on the face of scientific evidence, the minister has not only exposed his pandering to politics, but also how irresponsible our policymaking is.

 

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