I’ve been an admiring follower of a well-known environmentalist from Coastal Karnataka named Dinesh Holla, whose lone quest for the conservation of Western Ghats makes me believe he is the real hero we all need to look up to. For nearly a decade now, he has been voicing the causes of nature and proposing means through which the Western Ghats can be further conserved, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is paying any heed – not even the forest department.
The recent forest fire that broke in Bandipur and practically annihilated 3000 hectares of forest land along with its beautiful habitants is a slap on the face of all people who call themselves nature lovers. Do not assume I sound rude; we all fall under the category. The fire that drove the ‘green state’ one step closer towards a becoming a wasteland is nothing but a creation of man, purely drawn by financial and industrial greed that has always threatened to mercilessly consume what has sustained mankind for this long. Although it seems to have stooped to new levels altogether with this recent under-development. The problem is much more deep rooted and real than what we presume.
As Dinesh Holla and many other environmentalists frequently put it forth, forest fires are an easy and sure way for industrial predators to acquire ‘waste’ land that they can ‘put to use’ by establishing factory infrastructure. These people even come up with commendably novel ways to cause this mayhem – substances that stealthily inflict fire without human intervention, techniques such as setting a base of a tree on fire so that it eventually dies on its own, depriving a tree off its foundation, and so on. While these tricks enable them to fool the legal authorities, we cannot say that the authorities have been any more responsible in this regard. Techniques that they used to put off that fire that consumed 3000 hectares of forest land were nothing but shamefully primitive; and the army helicopters were brought to the spot on the fifth day after a number of criticisms by environmentalists.
While we might believe that the Western Ghats of Karnataka are our biggest asset, it isn’t true at all that they’re going to be around for much longer given the current pace of destruction. The fact is that every single day, they corrode farther and farther towards turning into dry land, with rivers, trees and animals being poached alike. The problem is more real and deadly than what we see from our comfortable little homes – our forest cover is actually rapidly lifting off and it is evident as daylight if you look a little closer. This fire that happened is actually just an evidence for the pace of it. The impacts of this will be as lasting as blockage of river origins, extinction of species, permanently damaged land areas that cannot be used for forest growth again, and eventual setting up of industries in these areas that only establish to thicken the fog.
One trek into the Western Ghats with Dinesh Holla opens up the extent of issues in there. We can actually see patches of land that were deliberately burnt off, tiger corridors monitored by poachers despite all the security moves, rivers that have turned into trickling brooks, and of course – to be specific, Nethravathi who seems to be practically dwindling to nothingness each day. Seeing it all in real is very much different and striking from seeing pictures and reading reports.
What I’m trying to say is that there are little things we can do, but let’s not stick to the good old ‘save nature, save water’ ideals. Practically, Dinesh Holla has been doing much more than any commoner would venture for the Western Ghats. This, on my behalf, is a call for people to join hands with his cause and voice his opinions. He takes the first step in calling out the ones responsible for nature issues- the least we can do is echo the same. He initiates movements that contribute towards the well-being of the forests on a massive scale, and we all are always welcome to join them. I believe we owe as much for the green cover that has made us the most beautiful and protected state of all. To me, joining hands with environmentalists like Mr.Holla makes more sense than any sort of ‘awareness programs’ we see. With the kind of developments happening in the contemporary context in the country, hardly anyone seems to be focusing on this issue in hand. It is inevitable, but not impossible to solve.
Visit the profile Dinesh Holla on Facebook and you’ll comprehend the kind of initiatives he has taken so far, as well as the radical ways he deals with whoever he finds to be fault. Wouldn’t take much of your time.
Photos by Narendra S