Valmik Thapar on Indian Wildlife Crisis
Valmik Thapar in his thought provoking column in the Indian Express writes that our national parks today have become an anarchic monster due to the sheer stupidity of those who create the rules that govern a Park and then those who enforce the same. For instance, the famous Bharatpur Bird sanctuary in Rajasthan is dying because of continued water scarcity.
Look what happened to the World Heritage Site of Bharatpur National Park. Ridiculous decision-making created a dam on the river that supplied water to this wetland -- the river dried up, so did the best wetland in the world. The state fears opening the dam today because of people agitating and the law and order problems that will follow. So Bharatpur dies, turning from wetland to desert.
Later in my college days, we had a "nature club". Our Zoology professor, Prof. Ramakrishnan Palat [I never did biology, I was/am a math student], was very interested in taking us to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. For two years we had also worked for a project (Western Ghats Biodiversity Project) of Madhav Gadgil. There were two friends from school days, with whom I'm still in touch, and several others with whom I'm not. One of them became quite famous later: Gopal Menon, the director of documentaries "Hey Ram: Genocide in the Land of Gandhi" and "Resilient Rhythms". In fact he did his first documentary when he was with us. I think it was titled "Yamam" (restraining), and this was about the destruction of the rain forests of Kerala.
Well, I was digressing, the original plan was just to link to Valmik Thapar's article. Thapar says India is facing its worst wildlife crisis after independence. This is his plea to those in power:
Wake up chief ministers, forest ministers, bureaucrats; wake up Prime Minister -- this is the worst wildlife crisis since Independence. You chair the prestigious National Board of Wildlife that has not been convened for 17 months. Convene an emergency meeting without delay. Reform the finance departments. Reform your own political leaders. Reform the Forest Service (it is time to create an arm of this service only for our National Parks and permit transfers across states from one National Park to another). The present system stinks -- while the crisis boomerangs, Project Tiger and the MoEF are busy organising an international symposium in March to celebrate Project Tiger's 32 years! A disaster awaits to envelop the finest forests of our land.