IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
H D DEVE GOWDA is today the Prime Minister (PM) of India. Till last month, he was the chief minister of Karnataka. His sole aim there was to make Karnataka the most industrialised state. And he couldn't care less about the environmental fallout. Indeed, he ticked off environmentalists who have been crying out against the devastation of the sensitive and extremely biodiversity- rich ecosystem of the Western Ghats. At the time when SUPRIYA AKERKAR was conducting this interview in Bangalore, the state's special secretary for environment, A N Yellapa Reddy had been asked to "sit at home" for seeking environmental protection for the Ghats. On becoming the PM, Gowda has reaffirmed his commitment to liberalisation. One can only hope that he will now take environmental issues seriously
What is your understanding of the environmental impact of the country's liberalisation policy?
I see no relation between liberalisation and environment. My sole concern and objective is that Karnataka becomes number one in industries in the country. Already about Rs 50,000-60,000 crore of investment has been invited in Karnataka by us, and Rs 16,000 crore has been invested. Infrastructure development is being done through private investors. The Bangalore-Mysore highway has been planned. Another national highway connecting Manglore-Bangalore- Hassan is also being planned. An airstrip is being planned at Hassan. We need all this for Karnataka's development.
Environmentalists in the state fear that the environment will be totally degraded by many of these industrial investments pouring into the state.
When we encourage the growth of industries, pollution is bound to be there. But we should see to it that damage due to pollution is minimised. Environmental pollution should not harm the future generations.
Besides these criticisms, environmentalists also point to the pollution caused by mining industries, or effluents released by Kudrernukh iron mines, Harihar polyfibres or the distilleries near Mysore.
I have reservations about these generalised criticisms about the industry's track record with the environment. Environmentalists criticise that industrial effluents released in water affect the fish. But this is not true. Industries and refineries in other states (Gujarat, for instance) have been releasing their effluents into the sea. But neith@r the growth of the fish in these areas nor the consumption was affected. There should not be a prejudged conclusion on these matters. We have advanced technology, which can be used to solve our pollution problems. As far as mining is concerned, government has reduced illegal mining activities.
Inspite of the advanced technology. environmentalists in the state claim that people are being subjected to high 'risks' due to polluting industry. One controversial high-risk project has been the Kaiga nuclear plant in Uttara Kannada, whose dome had fallen a couple of years ago.
Everything has a risk. Is there no risk in flying? Does that mean that we stop flying? The plane may crash, but we still risk it! Take sea travel, for example; again, there are risks involved. In the case of Kaiga, all measures should be taken to build proper constructions. Similarly, in all other projects care has to be taken.
Who will ensure this?
We will do it.
But already there are pollution problems with the Cogentrix power project to be based in the fragile Western Ghats. The environment secretary, Yellappa Reddy, has pointed that out. But your ministry is still pushing it.
Yellappa Reddy is more of a politician than an environment secretary... like Mr Khairnar (the deputy muncipal commissioner) from Bombay. The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) had given its environmental clearance for Cogentrix earlier. Now, by are we talking about Cogentrix? I have taken opinions on this matter from top experts. I don't want to discuss anything. I'll not have anything to do with a person like Yellappa Reddy. Often, people are being misled by environmentalists who tend to be anti- development. Take my advise... you are young and have a bright future ahead of you, don't be led by such people.
Karnataka's forest cover has been depleting. What is your government doing about it?
Our forest area needs to be developed, especially the c & D type of lands which can be afforested rapidly. We are working in that direction.
Environmentalists claim that forests have been depleted due to encroachments by tea and coffee 16,1anters. For example, the Kadumane Tea Estate in Hassan district has continued to be in illegal possession of more than 7,000 acres of forest land for many years now.
Our government is taking steps to estimate and identify land encroached by each planter.
The government-appointed commission has found out that in Coorg district, there has been largescale illegal felling, with the connivance of politicians.
We will take steps on that. There is no question about it.
Karnataka faces a problem of groundwater depletion. What are you doing about it?
What is needed is the construction of bonds to avoid rainwater run-off. Instructions have been given to the rural development department to build percolation tanks in the state.
Internationally, issues such as global warming are gaining much importance. What is your understanding of the problem?
I will not answer on national questions. I will only speak on matters related to my state.