The Burning Sea and the Vanishing Coast

Kerala’s densely populated land mass hugging the Arabian Sea is facing the onslaught of Climate Change, the shifting patterns of El Nino and the decimation of mangrove forests along its coastline. Oamjie John delineates the changing scenario – the decrease in rainfall, migration of fish species and the disappearance of the Ridley Turtle’s breeding sands. He passionately avers that ancient knowledge systems and techniques could possibly offer solutions to modern technology and unscientific plans. Photo: Sunil Kupperi

Rivers where boats ply no more

Rivers are a vital link to our inherent capacity for survival. The threads woven by Kunjurachan and his father is an unwinding tapestry of deforestation, concrete jungles replacing paddy fields and unbridled contamination of the Meenachil River. The forty four rivers originating in misty hillsides are now sluggish tributaries choking the life of Agriculture in Kerala. Traditional practices of farming, intuitive knowledge of the seasons have now given way under the onslaught of modernisation, bringing in its wake packaged food and distilled water. Writes Maju Puthankandam.

Impact of Unscientific Development Practices on Local Environment

Quarries, mindless tourism projects, construction of dams and encroachment of forests in Kerala have impacted its ecosystem, upsetting the delicate balance of flora, fauna and its indigenous inhabitants. The benign co-existence woven over generations is now in shreds. Maju Puthenkandam asserts that to save ourselves and future generations we have to re-prioritize development in a way that synchronizes with the environment, protects our mountains, water and land bodies.

Borewells that drain groundwater

Agriculture practices that stood the test of time are embedded in our culture. The dawn of Independence with the heydays of the Nehruvian era in the 1950s had instilled in us the vision of accelerated growth and a self-reliant economy that is secure in its food requirement.

Implications of the rampant use of chemical fertilizers and overturning of traditional methods of cultivation were not taken into account when policies were framed. The resultant spin off in terms of river bodies drying up, unplanned felling of trees, erratic rainfall patterns have all taken a huge toll on the livelihoods of farmers who for generations lived in harmony with the natural rhythms. In desperation to stem the tide, bore wells that had been dug mindlessly have sunk water tables and polluted our supply chain.

The author M.N. Kulkarni is making a plea to revisit our inherited wisdom, to align plans for growth that are in sync with our gifted legacy. Picture above: A dried up Kalyani, a traditional water source, in Nidigal, a village in Belgaum district, Karnataka. 

Disappearing flora, tradition, culture, vocation and language with climate change

A passionate plea from the heart of Poornaprajna Belur to revert to time honoured farming practices that for generations preserved medicinal plants, wild fruits and vegetables. At times when allopathic drugs were not easily accessible, this repository of ancient wisdom healed wounds, cured stomach ailments and promoted wholesome lifestyles. Poornaprajna is disheartened that along with medicines and food, tradition, culture and vocabulary linked to them are disappearing. His vision is for rejuvenating our legacy of healthy life styles that have for centuries stood the test of time. 

Chennai Skyline

Urbanisation, deforestation and climate change

The puncturing of the ozone layer, rampant deforestation, developmental projects, drying up of river bodies, and pollution of the atmosphere are destroying the capacity of human kind to survive on this planet. Motorized vehicles guzzling petrol and diesel emit volumes of carbon dioxide into the air. They have no foliage sinks to absorb the noxious fumes. Renuga Kasi goes on to emphasize that even refrigerators and air conditioners spewing fluorocarbons into the environment stifle our ability to survive. She goes on to say that of the nine planets in the solar system, only earth has the capacity to sustain life. It is incumbent on us to reverse this trend of deceleration; recapture our equilibrium which is being lost due to the destructive actions of mankind.

Village water

Virtual Water – The Blue Gold

The developed nations of USA and Europe have discreetly offloaded their supply chain manufacturing processes to developing countries like India. The finished products include Textiles, Leather and consumables like Bread and Burgers. Nakeeran, in a forceful essay, documents the depletion of water resources that is driving the exporting countries to starvation and collapse. Surface river bodies are polluted and ground water reserves are fast diminishing to near famine conditions. He makes a plea to put an end to virtual water trade by steering to local economic activity, reducing time, distance and becoming self-sufficient within a Geographical zone. 


Case study of ‘local’ agriculture being destroyed by the market

Until about forty years ago, innumerable varieties of millets were grown extensively in Antharsathe, a town in HD Kote taluk. Market forces, says Siddhartha, have now determined the cultivation of cash crops like Bt cotton and sugarcane. They are supplanting traditional farming practices, which had a repository of knowledge concerning soil regeneration, fertility, storing and exchange of seeds.

The public distribution system is now the institutionalized storage facility for wheat and rice. The seeds the government distributes for millets are considered by many farmers to be suspect.

In the context of climate change, thousands of farmers are bucking the trend and reverting to organic farming and cultivation of crops that are more in sync with local conditions.