Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The failure of High Range landscape project to take off in Kerala

This is a cross post from my regular blog Tahrcountry musings.( ).  I had stopped maintaining the blog Highrange Tidings, but thought this particular post from Tahrcountry Musings is worth a repost here. The matter is of great significance to High Ranges of Kerala.

The failure of High Range landscape project to take off in Kerala should act as an eye opener to planners in Kerala. It was a grandiose project conceived with very good intentions. But, in a thickly populated and highly literate state like Kerala the planners should have taken much more care before even thinking of implementing it.
The project funded by UNDP was planned in near secrecy with deliberations limited to few individuals. The interaction with local administrators lacked the urgency and empathy that was obviously needed. The local administrators were treated with disdain and supercilious attitude.
The attitude of UNDP officials also came in for criticism when they visited areas like Munnar. They had the know all attitude.Disdain and insouciance was written large in their demeanour. A furious estate manager rang me up and said" Who the bloody hell the UNDP officials think they are. They were trying to lord it over us. We do not like the attitude"
Even the wording of the project document had lot of lacunae. Sentences like an increase in protected area is expected was thrown out of context by the politicians and the bogey of taking away peoples' rights was spread by the politicians with ulterior motives. The officials concerned failed to read the danger signals in time or may be they took it lightly in their stride.
The church which has sizable followers in High Ranges also took a negative attitude. The mix of politicos and church was potent. Emotions were whipped up by interested elements with ulterior motives and their own agendas.
The failure of proper dialogue spelt the death knell of the project. Even within the departments proper dialogue was not initiated. Forest department which was the nodal agency failed miserably in this respect. When the newly appointed chief of forest forces Dr B.S Correy was asked about his comments on the project by a journalist he was frank enough to admit that he does not know anything much about the project. "It was conceived by a coterie within the forest department and they tried to implement it according to their will and pleasure". That in a nut shell explains the reasons for the failure of the project.

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