Bhubaneswar: Natural resources are still sacrosanct, people can’t be alienated said PadmabhusanProf(Dr) Madhav Dhananjaya Gadgil the eminent ecologist of international repute while delivering key note address during the inaugural session of Odisha environment congress 2020.The session was chaired by Mr.D.K.Ray, Chairman OEC. After lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries on the dais, the welcome address was given by Mr.Sudarsan Das, organizing secretary of OEC.
Dr.AjitKumat Pattnaik, former Director Chilika Development Authority introduced chief guest, Dr.MadhavDhanjayaGadgil and elaborated his exceptional merit as researcher, scientist and expounder of democratic values, as well as his achievements in the field of ecology. PadmashreeRadhamohan made a brief and succinct presentation of his views on biodiversity and its layman’s interpretation. Presidential address was given by Mr.D.K Roy.
In the beginning Prof(Dr) Gadgiltalked about the importance of democratic values needed to empower people who could consequently take the onus of caring nature.Prof Gadgil, reminisced two great events in his lifewhich gave new direction to this thought at an early age. The clarion call given by the father of nation to the Britishers to quit India and publication of book on ornithology by Dr.Salim Ali had left a deep impact on his life and hence initiated him to introspect.
Illustrious work of his father on cooperative movement, which led to the formation of sugarcane cooperative exposed him to people’s movement at an early age. Following his interest, his father introduced him to Dr.Salim Ali.After meeting him and Mr.J.B.S Haldane in his latter part of life,his resolve to work in this field got further sharpened..After higher studies at Harvard University, he was inducted to the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, Banglore to work in the field of mathematical modeling for life science.
His life as researcher, while closely working with the forest department is replete with rich experience of people’s effort in preserving forest and the indigenous knowledge. Distrust between the people staying within the forest and the governance has aggravated destruction of forest and loss of biodiversity. Forest Departments have exploited people and turned them as their enemies. Pushing interest of the corporates above the people’s need has brought unsettled the fragile balance of the people and their forest all over the country.There are clear evidences that people are regarded as enemies by the forest departments who erstwhile were treated sacrosanct.They regarded their forest at par with their deities they worship, rather forest was worshipped as deity herself.
Forest department created by Britishers as per Jyotiba Phule has wanted people’s strength to withstand the loss of their forest which was just not the source of food for them. The department pretended to help conserving forest, but in reality they were confiscators. They planned to flush out people staying within the forest so that cheap laborers for coffee and tea planters could be obtained.
According to him, Marathas were the last to fall in with the British Imperialism.They love the history of valor of marathas, particularly those of Shivaji. A British Army captain, during the early 19th century, published a book on the forest wealth of Western Ghats, which caught his fascination and his admiration for the green wealth of the Ghatsince then had remained deep seated.
During his visit to forest and his stay with the forest dwellers, he discovered that there are rapid pace of deforestation, even in those areas where forest were considered as sacred groves and protected on religious ground.He further mentioned that during his forest to MP, he found that 40% of the forest have been handed to the corporates.
The recent dread of pandemic has forced people to undertake an arduous journey of hundreds of miles to reach their village which they have abandoned long ago.If forests are preserved through better practices of forest management, livelihood of the communities earlier dependent on it can be secured sustainably.
The mindset inherited from the colonial master that people are enemies of forest need to be discarded.The connect between people and forest can be forged again. The issues of poverty and its other ramifications such as social and economic vulnerability can be closed for ever.
Children Environment was held after the inaugural session.70 students from different schools across the state participated in the elocution and painting competition.