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#SaveWesternGhats: Here Are Some Projects Set To Destroy The Western Ghats

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The Western Ghats are in danger. Numerous projects have been proposed in the name of development in the ecologically fragile zone without taking into account the important roles forests play in regulating climate, recharging rivers, and sequestering carbon.

The Western Ghats are a global biodiversity hotspot and the source of rivers that cover 40% of India. It is home to thousands of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the region. It is called the ‘Protector of Peninsular India’, regulating climate and rainfall. The region is also home to many indigenous communities who depend on forest produce for survival.

In this article, let’s look at just five out of the many projects set to destroy the ecology of Western Ghats in Karnataka:

1. Sharavathi Valley Hydro Power Plant

Credits: The News Minute

A 2000 MW Hydroelectric Project is proposed to be built on the Sharavathi River. It falls in the core area of the protected Sharavathi LTM Sanctuary. The Sharavathi River is already heavily dammed—it has a total of 7 dams and 5 tunnels, currently providing 40% of Karnataka’s hydroelectric power. Experts fear that another project would spell doom for the river. Hydel power projects, especially large ones, are not as green as once thought to be. Emerging research shows how hydro projects increase flood vulnerability, affect aquatic life, submerge large tracts of forests, displace vulnerable populations and release large amounts of methane.

2. Yettinahole Stream Diversion Project

Credits: SANDRP

This ₹25,000 crore project aims to divert the flow of Yettinahole stream towards water-scarce districts of Kolar, Hassan, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Rural. The government has failed to conduct any public consultation or Environment Impact Assessment for the project despite it falling in densely forested regions of the Western Ghats. It claims that drinking water projects are exempt from such procedures, but project documents show how this water will be used for irrigation and industry as well, thus it is not just a drinking water project. Studies also show that the project has overestimated the river flow of the Yettinahole stream, and that there isn’t more than 0.85 TMC excess water that can be diverted, while project documents claim 24 TMC water can be diverted.  

3. Kaiga Nuclear Plant Expansion

Credits: Fircroft

Two reactors of 700 MW each have been proposed in densely forested Kaiga region to increase the overall capacity of the existing nuclear plant. The project is expected to destroy almost 120 hectares of forest land with 8700 trees being cut in an ecologically sensitive area. It will use an additional 75,000 cubic meters of water per hour from the adjacent Kali river. Apart from this, the radiation contamination will pollute the river, further degrade the overall biodiversity and also affect the health of human population in the vicinity.

4. Highway Expansions (like the NH 173)

Credits: Conservation India

Estimates reveals that Karnataka is set to lose 7.35 lakh trees due to upcoming highway and highway expansion projects, most of it in the Western Ghats. The 230 km Mangaluru- Chitradurga Project (NH-173) is one of them. Shishila-Byrapura is the first phase of this route, and it will result in the felling of 50,000 to 1 lakh trees. It encroaches upon an elephant corridor, which might exacerbate human-elephant conflict in the region. The route also threatens the course of rivulets that originate in the area of the proposed road and flow into Nethravathi river. 

5. Hubballi Ankola Railway Project

Credits: Wasp Logistiks

The Hubballi Ankola Project, recently stayed by the High Court of Karnataka, was set to destroy more than 1.6 lakh trees in over 596 hectares of densely forested land. Home to threatened species like the Lion Tailed Macaque, tiger, Great Hornbill, the fragmentation of the forest by this project would result in dwindling of these populations and increased train-hit deaths of wildlife. Ecologists were also concerned about how the project would affect rivers Kali, Gangaavali, which provide drinking water to Dharwad and Uttara Kannada regions. Increase in landslides, floods, droughts were also feared from the massive ecological damage the project would cause.

 

Western Ghats is the Pride of India. It is the Pride of Karnataka. Let is preserve our natural heritage.

Come join us at @fridaysforfuture.karnataka to join the #SaveWesternGhats campaign today!

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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