‘Investment board, FDI in retail will be disastrous to farming, biodiversity’
Vandana Shiva (right) of Navdanya, New Delhi, and Ananth Hegde Ashisar, chairman, Western Ghats Task Force, during the plenary of the biodiversity congress in Bangalore on Tuesday.— Photo: K. GOPINATHAN
Economic policies and decisions on large investments must come with the tag of their impact on the country’s biodiversity, the second Indian Biodiversity Congress which closed here on Tuesday has suggested.
The bigger the policy decision, bigger its impact on biodiversity; every major decision must be scrutinised through the lens of biodiversity, according to biodiversity congress chairperson Vandana Shiva.
Two recent moves by the Government — the National Investment Board (NIB) and allowing foreign direct investment in retail business — would be disastrous to the country’s traditional agricultural and biodiversity systems, she said during the plenary and later at a news conference.
“The NIB [will] bypass all environmental impact assessments and therefore, all environmental responsibility [of the investor]. It is anti-Constitutional, anti-national and we should not have it. The Minister for Environment has written to [Finance Minister P.] Chidambaram that it is a bad idea,” said Dr. Shiva, eco-activist who runs the indigenous seed bank Navdanya.
On the latest parliamentary approval to allow FDI in retail, Dr. Shiva expressed concern that the Wal-Mart model could spell the end of small farmers and thousands of livelihoods.
A session on “green politics” cautioned the government against allowing patenting of life, mono-culture crops, bio-piracy and introduction of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Among key speakers calling for sustainable action plans were Vijay Chandru, CEO of bio-informatics company, Strand Genomics; K.S. Sugara, Member Secretary, Karnataka Biodiversity Board; Ananth Hegde Ashishar, Chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force; P.J. Dilip Kumar, Director-General of Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forests; and Darshan Shankar, Vice-Chairman of the Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine.
The Madhav Gadgil report on the Western Ghats should be implemented by involving the biodiversity boards of the States concerned, according to the Indian Biodiversity Congress 2012.
The three-day congress also had Western Ghats as its theme.
The mountain range is one of the world’s eight hotspots of biological diversity and stretches across Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra.
Local communities should have a say in the decisions to conserve the ecologically sensitive region, the congress said
Among other resolutions, it said the use of bio-fuel should be promoted without disturbing the local ecosystem.
Dr. Gadgil, environmental scientist formerly with the Indian Institute of Science, chaired the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel and his report was submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests over a year ago.