Save the Western Ghats – A letter to the Chief Minister of Karnataka

This is a letter drafted by Mahesh Bhat, with inputs from me, Arati Kumar-Rao and Vageesha – requesting the hon. CM to avoid the Inter-Basin Transfer (IBT) and also drop the idea of the Hubballi-Ankola railway line.

I am requesting you, dear reader, for your support – please send a physical copy of this letter to the Hon. CM of Karnataka, once the lockdown is lifted and everyone is safe. Until then, THIS LETTER CAN BE EMAILED TO You can choose between the English and Kannada versions.

*** Please copy the text into your email and send it to the above-mentioned address ***

English Version:

Shri B S Yeddiyurappa

Honourable Chief Minister

Government of Karnataka

Vidhana Soudha

Bengaluru – 560 001

Respected Sir,

We are writing to you regarding the proposal of “Inter Basin Transfer” (IBT) that will involve diversion of 484 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water from various west-flowing rivers with the least impact on the environment to fill up nearly 36,000 tanks and lakes across Karnataka. And about the shocking news the State Wildlife Board has approved the Hubballi-Ankola Railway line that will be an environmental disaster.

Inter Basin Transfer:

IBT envisages getting the ‘excess water’ from various rivers – Kumaradhara, Netravati, Sharavati, Bedthi and Aghanashini. All these rivers originate in the Western Ghats and flow westwards towards Arabian sea. As you are already aware, the Western Ghats and the rainforests there are older than the Himlayas and are one of the global biodiversity hotspots.

Comprising only 6% of the world’s surface area, rainforests contain one-half to three-quarters of the earth’s species of plants and animals. This is in part because the groups of organisms which contain the most species (arthropods and flowering plants) are found in high concentrations in tropical forests. In fact, a land area of 0.5 km2 in some tropical forests contains more tree species than does the entire landmass of Europe and North America combined!

The Western Ghats also act as giant sponges, which absorb the rain water and slowly release them as natural springs. Protection of Western Ghats is imperative for securing our future! Already many ongoing projects have accounted for felling of over 20 lakh trees, already endangering this fragile ecosystem. Also the massive landslides that happened two years ago in Kodagu and Wayanad were results of indiscriminate deforestation.

Sir, IBT talks about bringing the ‘excess’ water from these rivers to ‘bayalu seeme’. However we would like to bring to your notice that the notion of ‘excess water’ is misleading. Any water in a river is used by various parts of the riparian ecosystem. The flow that reaches the sea carries both silt and water and is vital for maintaining the health of estuaries in the coastal areas.

Estuaries are important natural places. They provide goods and services that are economically and ecologically indispensable. Often called nurseries of the sea, estuaries provide vital nesting and feeding habitats for many aquatic plants and animals. Estuaries also help to maintain healthy ocean environments. They filter out sediments and pollutants from rivers and streams before they flow into the oceans, providing cleaner waters for marine life. Estuaries are also the economic centers of coastal communities.

Justice Radhakrishnan of the Supreme Court of India said this in a judgement of WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 202 OF 1995, T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union Of India & Others said that

“Environmental justice could be achieved only if we drift away from the principle of anthropocentric to ecocentric. Many of our principles like sustainable development, polluter-pays principle, inter-generational equity have their roots in anthropocentric principles. Anthropocentrism is always human interest focussed and non-human has only instrumental value to humans. In other words, humans take precedence and human responsibilities to non-human based benefits to humans. Ecocentrism is nature centred where humans are part of nature and non-human has intrinsic value. In other words, human interest does not take automatic precedence and humans have obligations to non- humans independently of human interest. Ecocentrism is therefore life-centred, nature-centred where nature includes both human and non-humans. National Wildlife Action Plan 2002-2012 and centrally sponsored scheme (Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats) is centred on the principle of ecocentrism.

Our honourable President Shri Ramanath Kovind has said in an essay that was published in Hindustan Times on March 20, 2020 “Respect for nature may be the next lesson intended for us. Homo sapiens is the only organism that has overpowered all other animals, taken control of the whole planet, and even set foot on the moon. Now it stands humbled by a microorganism. We would do well to keep in mind the fact that at the end of the day we are merely biological organisms, dependent on other organisms for survival. Humankind’s craving to control nature and exploit all its resources for profit can be wiped out in a stroke by an organism we cannot even see with the naked eye.”

Sir, it is important to understand that our home – earth and the natural resources are not just for the use of human beings but also of the many millions of other species. Nomadic shepherds of the Deccan consider the wolf as their brother and say that the wolf too has a share in their flock. Taking a leaf from their book, we also need to make sure that we share our natural resources with other beings, whose survival is of vital importance for our survival.

While you have the worthwhile goal of oorige ondu kere – It would be worth considering – oorige ondu kere – aa kereyalli maLey neeru! Madakas, the traditional watershed rainwater harvesting structures can be considered to meet the drinking water needs and that of agriculture in bayalu seeme. Many local interventions have already been successfully carried out. Experts who are working in this area can be tapped to meet the water needs of the people without destroying vast swathes of Western Ghats.

Research suggests that outbreaks of animal-borne and other infectious diseases such as Ebola, Sars, bird flu and now Covid-19, caused by a novel coronavirus, are on the rise. Pathogens are crossing from animals to humans, and many are able to spread quickly to new places. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that three-quarters of new or emerging diseases that infect humans originate in animals. “We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbour so many species of animals and plants – and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses,” David Quammen, author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Pandemic, recently wrote in the New York Times. “We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.” Hence preserving the Western Ghats is imperative to prevent outbreaks of such dreaded diseases. If we do not preserve the biodiversity of our Western Ghats, the next epicenter of a contagion could well be Karnataka. We already have the example of Kyasanur Forest Disease in Karnataka.

Life will march on. It might not include tigers and elephants and turtles and gorillas and towering forests. And it might not even include us. It might just be cockroaches and tardigrades and bacteria and viruses. But life will march on. We can choose to continue to curate and preserve what we find precious about the current diversity, including ourselves, by pulling back on our self-destructive consumption and waste. Or we can choose that does not include us and the beauty we love.

Diverting the west flowing rivers will directly impact the Western Ghats which will, in turn, impact all the east flowing rivers. We request you to take the correct decision in saving our rivers and the Western Ghats.

Hubli Ankola railway line :

The project entails felling nearly 2 lakh trees to lay a 164.44-km length railway line whose benefits are questionable according to various studies , especially with respect to transferring ore from mines in Ballari to coast.

According to the CEC report the ore available in Ballari-Hosapete’s mines is only for two decades after which mining would be economically unviable. Distance between Hospet-Hubli-Vasco is 230 km and distance between Hospet-Hubli-Ankola(the proposed route) would be 212 km which are almost the same. Why not take that route instead of fragmenting forests by building over 50 major bridges and over 21 kms of tunnels through the evergreen forests?

The line diverts 1472 acres of pristine forests and introduces fragmentation to two tiger reserves , Bedthi Conservation Reserve and Anshi Dandeli Hornbill reserve. These forests through which the railway line cuts support 29 species of mammals, 256 species of birds, many more species of reptiles and butterflies. Majority of the mammals are in the IUCN red list and also protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1972.

The tracks between Kali Tiger Reserve and Bedthi Conservation Reserve and more than 80% of the line cuts through Western Ghats.

It was also identified that elephants moving out of Dandeli Sanctuary pass through Bhagwati, Kalghatgi, Kirwatti, Mundgod, Katur and go up to Hangal. The proposed rail line would pass through the region and fragment the corridor and pose a threat of train hits and loss of property and lives of humans and livestock. Hence We request you not to go ahead with the Hubballi- Ankola railway line as well. No amount of afforestation will compensate for the loss of rainforests.

We would like you to go down in history as the CM who saved Western Ghats rather than the CM who destroyed it. Please save the Western Ghats for the sake of us and the future generations.

Yours Sincerely,


Kannada Version (translated by L C Nagaraj):

ಜಲಾನಯನ ವರ್ಗಾವಣೆ, ಹುಬ್ಬಳ್ಳಿ-ಅಂಕೋಲ ರೈಲು ಮಾರ್ಗಗಳು ಬೇಡ, ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟಗಳನ್ನು ದಯವಿಟ್ಟು ಉಳಿಸಿ

ಶ್ರೀ ಯಡಿಯೂರಪ್ಪ

ಮಾನ್ಯ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಮಂತ್ರಿಗಳು

ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಸರ್ಕಾರ

ವಿಧಾನ ಸೌಧ


ಮಾನ್ಯ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಮಂತ್ರಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಆದರಣೀಯ ನಮಸ್ಕಾರಗಳು ,

ಪಶ್ಚಿಮಕ್ಕೆ ಹರಿಯುವ ವಿವಿಧ ನದಿಗಳಿಂದ  484 ಟಿ.ಎಂ.ಸಿ [ ಸಾವಿರ ಮಿಲಿಯನ್ ಘನ ಅಡಿ ] ನೀರನ್ನ ಕಡಿಮೆ‌ಪ್ರಮಾಣದ ವಿನಾಶ ಮಾಡಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದಾದ್ಯಂತ ಇರುವ 36000 ಕೆರೆಗಳಿಗೆ ತುಂಬಿಸಲು ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳಲಾಗುತ್ತಿರುವ ಅಂತರ ಜಲಾನಯನ ವರ್ಗಾವಣೆ [ Interbasin transfer / IBT ] ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ ನಾವು ನಿಮಗೆ ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇವೆ. ಈ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪಕ್ಕೆ ಸಂಬಂಧಿಸಿದಂತೆ ರಾಜ್ಯ ವನ್ಯ ಜೀವಿ ಮಂಡಳಿ  ಹುಬ್ಬಳ್ಳಿ ,- ಅಂಕೋಲ ರೈಲು ಮಾರ್ಗ ನಿರ್ಮಾಣಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುಮೋದನೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿರುವುದು ಅಗಾಧ ಪರಿಸರ ವಿಪತ್ತನ್ನ ತಂದೊಡ್ಡಲಿದೆ.

ಕುಮಾರಧಾರ, ನೇತ್ರಾವತಿ, ಶರಾವತಿ, ಬೇಡ್ತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅಘನಾಶಿನಿ ಈ ವಿವಿಧ ನದಿಗಳಿಂದ ಹೆಚ್ಚುವರಿ ನೀರು ಪಡೆಯುವುದನ್ನು ಯೋಜಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಈ ಎಲ್ಲ ನದಿಗಳೂ ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಟ್ಟಿ  ಪಶ್ಚಿಮದ ಅರೇಬಿಯನ್ ಸಮುದ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಹರಿಯುತ್ತಿವೆ. ನಿಮಗೆ ಈಗಾಗಲೇ ತಿಳಿದಿರುವಂತೆ ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಇಲ್ಲಿನ‌ ಮಳೆಕಾಡುಗಳು ಹಿಮಾಲಯದ ಕಾಡುಗಳಿಗಿಂತ  ಪ್ರಾಚೀನವಾದ ಜೀವ ವೈವಿಧ್ಯತೆಯ ತಾಣಗಳು. ವಿಶ್ವದ ಮೇಲ್ಮೈ ವಿಸ್ತೀರ್ಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಶೇ 6 ರಷ್ಟು ಭಾಗವನ್ನು ಹೊಂದಿರುವ ಮಳೆಕಾಡುಗಳು ಭೂಮಿಯ ಮೇಲಿನ ಸಸ್ಯ ಪ್ರಭೇಧದ ಅರ್ಧಭಾಗ ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರಾಣಿವರ್ಗದ ಮುಕ್ಕಾಲು ಭಾಗವನ್ನು ಒಳಹೊಂಡಿವೆ. ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಪ್ರಭೇಧಗಳನ್ನು  ಹೊಂದಿರುವ ಜೀವಗುಂಪುಗಳ  ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ  ಸಾಂದ್ರತೆ ಕಂಡುಬರುವುದು ಉಷ್ಣವಲಯದ ಕಾಡುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ. ವಾಸ್ತವಿಕವಾಗಿ ಸಮಸ್ತ ಯೂರೋಪು ಮತ್ತು ಉತ್ತರ ಅಮೇರಿಕದ  ಭೂದ್ರವ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಒಟ್ಟು ಸಸ್ಯ ಪ್ರಭೇಧಗಳು ಉಷ್ಣವಲಯದ ಕಾಡುಗಳ 0.5 ಚದರ ಕಿಲೋಮೀಟರು ಪ್ರದೇಶದಲ್ಲೇ ಕಂಡು ಬರುತ್ತವೆ.

ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟದ ಕಾಡುಗಳು ಮಳೆನೀರನ್ನು  ಹಿಡಿದಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ನಿಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಜಲದ ಒರತೆಗಳನ್ನು   ಉಕ್ಕಿಸುವ ಜಲದ ಮಡು. ನಮ್ಮ ಮುಂದಿನ ಸುರಕ್ಷತೆ ದೃಷ್ಠಿಯಿಂದ ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟದ ಕಾಡುಗಳು ಮಹತ್ವವಾದವು. ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಈಗಾಗಲೇ ಚಾಲ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿರುವ ವಿವಿಧ ಕಾಮಗಾರಿಗಳಿಗಾಗಿ  20  ಲಕ್ಷ ಮರಗಳನ್ನು ಕೆಡವಲಾಗಿದ್ದು ಇಲ್ಲಿನ ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮ ಪರಿಸರ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಗೆ ಧಕ್ಕೆಯಾಗಿದೆ. ಎರಡು ವರ್ಷದ ಹಿಂದೆ ಕೊಡಗು ಮತ್ತು ಕಾವೇರಿ ಕೊಳ್ಳದಲ್ಲಿ,  ವಯನಾಡಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಉಂಟಾದ ಭೂಕುಸಿತ  ವಿಪರೀತ ಪ್ರಮಾಣದ ಅರಣ್ಯನಾಶದಿಂದಲೇ ಸಂಭವಿಸಿವೆ

ಸರ್, ಈ ಯೋಜನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ  ” ಹೆಚ್ಚುವರಿ ನೀರನ್ನು ಬಯಲುಸೀಮೆಗೆ ಹರಿಸುವ ” ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪವಿದೆ , ಆದರೆ ಈ ” ಹೆಚ್ಚುವರಿ ನೀರು ” ಎಂಬ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆಯೇ ದಾರಿ ತಪ್ಪಿಸುವಂಥದು . ನದಿಪಾತ್ರ ವಿವಿಧ ಭಾಗಗಳಲ್ಲಿನ ನೀರು ಆ ನದಿಯ ಜಲಾನಯನ ಪರಿಸರ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯ ಅಗತ್ಯಗಳಿಗೆ  ಬಳಕೆಯಾಗುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಹರಿದು ಸಮುದ್ರ ಸೇರುವ ನದಿ ತನ್ನ ಜೊತೆಗೆ ಸಾಗಿಸುವ ಸಾವಯವ ಉಳಿಕೆ ಕರಾವಳಿ ಪ್ರದೇಶದ ಜೈವಿಕ ತಾಣಗಳ ರಕ್ಷಣೆಗೆ ಅಗತ್ಯವಾದುದು. ಈ ಜೀವ ವೈವಿಧ್ಯ ತಾಣಗಳು ಆರ್ಥಿಕ ಮತ್ತು ಪರಿಸರಾತ್ಮಕ ಮೌಲ್ಯವುಳ್ಳ ಸರಕು ಸೇವೆಗಳನ್ನ ಒದಗಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದು  ಇವುಗಳು ಕಡಲಿನ ಪೋಷ್ಟಕ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯನ್ನು ಕಾಯುತ್ತಿವೆ. ಅನೇಕ ಸಸ್ಯ ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಆಹಾರ ಮತ್ತು ಆಸರೆ ಅವಕಾಶ ಒದಗಿಸಿದ್ದು  ಸಮುದ್ರ ಪರಿಸರ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆಯನ್ನು ರಕ್ಷಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ನೆರವಾಗುತ್ತಿವೆ. ಈ ಜೀವ ವೈವಿಧ್ಯ ತಾಣಗಳು ಕರಾವಳಿ ಪ್ರದೇಶದ ಜನಸಮುದಾಯಗಳಿಗೂ ಬದುಕಿನ ಆಸರೆ ಒದಗಿಸುತ್ತಿವೆ.

ಟಿ.ಎಸ್. ಗೋದಾವರ್ಮನ್ ತಿರುಮಲಪಾದ್  V/s ಭಾರತ ಒಕ್ಕೂಟ ಸರ್ಕಾರ ಮೊಕದ್ದಮೆ [ Writ petition ( C ) No 202 of 1995 ]  ಯಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾರತ ಸುಪ್ರೀಂ ಕೋರ್ಟಿನ ನ್ಯಾಯಮೂರ್ತಿ ಅವರು ಹೀಗೆ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯಪಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ :

‘ ಮಾನವ ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ತಾತ್ವಿಕತೆ ಮತ್ತು ಲೋಕಗ್ರಹಿಕೆಗಳಿಂದ ದೂರ ಸರಿದು  ಪರಿಸರ ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತವಾದ ಪಾಲನೆಯ ತಾತ್ವಿಕತೆಗೆ ಒಲವು ತೋರಿದಾಗ ಮಾತ್ರ ನಾವು ಪರಿಸರಾತ್ಮಕ ನ್ಯಾಯವನ್ನು ಸಾಧಿಸಬಹುದು.  ಸುಸ್ಥಿರ ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿ , ಮಾಲಿನ್ಯಕಾರನು ತಾನು ಉಂಟು  ಮಾಡಿದ ಮಾಲಿನ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರತಿಯಾಗಿ ದಂಡ ತೆರುವುದು ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತರ ತಲೆಮಾರು ಸಮತೆ ಈ ಎಲ್ಲವೂ ಮಾನವಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ತತ್ವಗಳಿಂದಲೇ ಹುಟ್ಟಿಕೊಂಡ ತಪ್ಪು ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆಗಳು. ಮಾನವಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ತಾತ್ವಿಕತೆ ಮತ್ತು ಲೋಕಗ್ರಹಿಕೆಗಳು  ಮನುಷ್ಯರ ಐಹಿಕ ಆಸಕ್ತಿಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಿಗಾ ವಹಿಸುತ್ತವೆಯೇ ಹೊರತು  ಮಾನುಷವಲ್ಲದ ಜೀವಮಂಡಲವನ್ನು ಬಳಸಿ ಬಿಸಾಡಬಹುದಾದ  ಸಾದನಗಳನ್ನಾಗಿ ಸಂಕುಚಿತ ದೃಷ್ಠಿಯಿಂದ ಕಾಣುತ್ತದೆ. ಮಾನವರು ಮಾನವರಿಗಲ್ಲದ ಉಪಯೋಗಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ  ಅಷ್ಟಾಗಿ ಚಿಂತಿಸುವವರಲ್ಲ. ಪರಿಸರ ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ ಮತ್ತು ಲೋಕಗ್ರಹಿಕೆಯು ನಿಸರ್ಗದ ಸರ್ವಜೀವ ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತವಾಗಿದ್ದು ಮನುಷ್ಯರು ಅದರ ಒಂದು ಭಾಗವಾಗಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ ಮತ್ತು ಮಾನುಷವಲ್ಲದ ನಿಸರ್ಗದ ಚರಾಚರಗಳಿಗೆ ಅಂತರ್ಗತ ಮೌಲ್ಯವಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಇಂತಹ ನಿಸರ್ಗ ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ ಮತ್ತು ಲೋಕಗ್ರಹಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮನುಷ್ಯರು ನಿಸರ್ಗದ ಚರಾಚರಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಪ್ರಾಬಲ್ಯ ಸಾಧಿಸದೇ ಅವುಗಳ ಅಸ್ತಿತ್ವದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕಾಳಜಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅನುಭೂತಿ ಹೊಂದಿದವರಾಗಿರುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ನಿಸರ್ಗ ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ಲೋಕಗ್ರಹಿಕೆಯು ಸರ್ವಜೀವಗಳ ಹಿತವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಳ್ಳುವ ಜೀವಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ ; ನಿಸರ್ಗವು ಮಾನುಷವಾದುದು ಮತ್ತು ಮಾನುಷೇತರವಾದುದನ್ನೂ ಏಕಕಾಲಕ್ಕೆ ಒಳಗೊಳ್ಳುವ ಜೀವಮಂಡಲ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆ. 2002 -12 ರ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರೀಯ ವನ್ಯಮೃಗ ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಯೋಜನೆ  [ National wildlife action plan ] ಮತ್ತು ಕೇಂದ್ರ ಸಹಯೋಗದ ಸಮಗ್ರ ವನ್ಯಮೃಗ ತಾಣ ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿ ಯೋಜನೆಗಳು ನಿಸರ್ಗ ಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ತಾತ್ವಿಕತೆಗಳನ್ನ ಆಧರಿಸಿವೆ.

ನಮ್ಮ ಗೌರವಾನ್ವಿತ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರಾಧ್ಯಕ್ಷರಾದ ಶ್ರೀ ರಾಮನಾಥ್ ಕೋವಿಂದ್ ಅವರು 2020 ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 20 ರಂದು ಹಿಂದುಸ್ತಾನ್ ಟೈಮ್ಸ್ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದಿರುವ ಲೇಖನದಲ್ಲಿ ಹೀಗೆ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯಪಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ :

‘ ಈಗ ನಮಗೆ ಉಳಿದಿರುವ ಏಕೈಕ ಆಯ್ಕೆ ನಿಸರ್ಗವನ್ನ ಅದರ ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವರೂಪಗಳೊಂದಿಗೆ ಗೌರವಿಸುವುದು , ಭೂಮಿಯ ಜೀವಮಂಡಲದ ಉಳಿದೆಲ್ಲ ಜೀವರೂಪಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಪ್ರಾಬಲ್ಯ ಸಾಧಿಸಿ ಚಂದ್ರಲೋಕದ ಮೇಲೂ ಕಾಲಿಟ್ಟ ಜೀವ ಎಂದರೆ ಮನುಷ್ಯನೊಬ್ಬನೇ . ಆದರೆ ಈಗ ಕಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ಕಾಣದ ಒಂದು ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮಾಣುವಿನ ಎದುರು ದೈನೇಸಿಯಾಗಿ ನಿಲ್ಲಬೇಕಾಗಿ ಬಂದಿದೆ. ಈಗ ನಾವು ಅರಿತುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಿದೆ ಮಾನುಷಜೀವವು ಉಳಿದೆಲ್ಲ ಜೀವರೂಪಗಳನ್ನ ಅವಲಂಬಿಸಿರುವ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಜೀವರೂಪ ಅಷ್ಟೇ. ಭೂಮಿಯ ಸಕಲ ಸಂಪನ್ಮೂಲಗಳನ್ನು ತನ್ನೊಬ್ಬನ ಹಿತಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಮಾತ್ರ ಕೊಳ್ಳೆ ಹೊಡೆಯಲು ತಹತಹಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮನುಷ್ಯ ಕುಲ ಒಂದೇ ಒಂದು ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮಾಣು ಜೀವಿಯಿಂದ ನಾಶವಾಗಬಲ್ಲುದು ‘

ಸರ್, ಈ ಕವಲುದಾರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತಿರುವ ನಾವು ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯಾಗಿರುವ ಈ ಭೂಮಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅದರ ಮೇಲಿನ ಜೀವರೂಪಗಳು ಮನುಷ್ಯರ ಬಳಕೆಗಾಗಿ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ  ಉಳಿದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಜೀವಗಳಿಗೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬದುಕುವ ಅವಕಾಶವಿರಬೇಕು . ದಖ್ಖನಿ ಪ್ರದೇಶದ ಕುರಿಗಾಹಿಗಳು ತೋಳವನ್ನ ತಮ್ಮ ಒಡಹುಟ್ಟಿದವನೆಂದೇ ಭಾವಿಸಿ ತಾವು ಸಾಕಿದ ಕುರಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅದಕ್ಕೂ ಪಾಲು ಕೊಡುವ ನಡವಳಿಕೆಯಿದೆ. ಅವರ ಅರಿವಿನ ಒಂದು ಎಳೆಯನ್ನಾದರೂ ಅನುಸರಿಸಿ ನಾವು ನಮ್ಮ ನೈಸರ್ಗಿಕ ಸಂಪನ್ಮೂಲಗಳಲ್ಲಿ , ನಮ್ಮ ಉಳಿವಿಗೆ ಆಧಾರವಾಗಿರುವ ಉಳಿದೆಲ್ಲ ಜೀವರೂಪಗಳಿಗೂ ಹಕ್ಕಿದೆ ಎಂಬ ಹೊಸ ನಿಸರ್ಗಕೇಂದ್ರಿತ ಅರಿವನ್ನ ನಾವೀಗ ಕಂಡುಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಅಗತ್ಯ ಉಂಟಾಗಿದೆ.

ಸರ್, ತಾವು ‘ ಊರಿಗೆ ಒಂದು ಕೆರೆ ‘ ಎಂಬ ಮೌಲಿಕ ಯೋಜನೆಯನ್ನು ಮುಂಗಾಣ್ಕೆಯಾಗಿ ಕಂಡಿರುವುದು ಸರಿಯಷ್ಟೇ , ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ಊರಿಗೊಂದು ಕೆರೆ , ಕೆರೆಗೆ ಮಳೆನೀರು , ಮಳೆ ಸುರಿಯಲು ಅಗತ್ಯವಿರುವ ಜಲವಲಯಗಳು ಎಂದರೆ ಬೆಟ್ಟಸಾಲುಗಳ ರಕ್ಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅರಣ್ಯೀಕರಣ , ಪಾರಂಪರಿಕ ಜಲಾನಯನ ರಚನೆಗಳಾದ ಮಡಕ, ತಲಪರಿಗೆ , ದೊಣೆ ಇವುಗಳಿಂದ ಮತ್ತು ಭೂಮಿಯ ಜಲಾನಯನ ಪ್ರದೇಶಗಳ ಸೂಕ್ತ ಉಪಚಾರದಿಂದ ಬಯಲುಸೀಮೆಯ ನೀರಿನ ಅಗತ್ಯಗಳನ್ನ ಸಮರ್ಥವಾಗಿ ನೀಗಿಸಬಹುದಾಗಿದೆ. ಈ ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಅನೇಕ ಯಶೋಗಾತೆಗಳು ನಮ್ಮ ಕಣ್ಣ ಮುಂದಿವೆ. ಈಗಾಗಲೇ ಜಲಸಂರಕ್ಷಣೆ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾರ್ಯನಿರ್ವಹಿಸಿ ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟ ಶ್ರೇಣಿಗಳು ಯಾವುದೇ ಕಾರಣದಿಂದಲೂ ಮುಕ್ಕಾಗದಂತೆ ಬಯಲುಸೀಮೆಯ ನೀರಿನ ಅಗತ್ಯಗಳನ್ನ ಪೂರೈಸಬಹುದಾಗಿದೆ.

ಪ್ರಾಣಿ , ಮೃಗಜನ್ಯ ರೋಗ , ಸಾಂಕ್ರಾಮಿಕ ರೋಗಗಳಾದ ಎಬೋಲ, ಸಾರ್ಸ್, ಹಕ್ಕಿಜ್ವರ ಮತ್ತು ಈಗ ಕರೋನ ವೈರಸುಗಳು ದಿನೇ ದಿನೇ ಹೆಚ್ಚಳವಾಗುತ್ತಿರುವುದನ್ನು ಸಂಶೋದನೆಗಳು ತಿಳಿಸುತ್ತ ಬಂದಿವೆ. ರೋಗ ಹರಡುವ ಅನೇಕ ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮಾಣುಜೀವಿಗಳು ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳಿಂದ ಮನುಷ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಹರಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿವೆ , ಇವುಗಳ ಪೈಕಿ ಹಲವು ಇತರ ಸ್ಥಳಗಳಿಗೂ ಹರಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿವೆ. ಅಮೇರಿಕದ ರೋಗ ನಿಯಂತ್ರಣ ಮತ್ತು ಹತೋಟಿ ಕೇಂದ್ರ [ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention / CDC ] ಅಂದಾಜು ಮಾಡಿರುವ ಪ್ತಕಾರ ಮನುಷ್ಯರಿಗೆ ಸೋಂಕುತ್ತಿರುವ 3/4 ರಷ್ಟು ರೋಗಗಳು ಪ್ರಾಣಿ ಮತ್ತು ವನ್ಯಮೃಗಗಳಿಂದ ಉಂಟಾಗುತ್ತಿವೆ.‌ ವಿವಿಧ ಸಸ್ಯಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಆಸರೆ ತಾಣವಾಗಿರುವ ಉಷ್ಣವಲಯದ ಮಳೆಕಾಡುಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ನಾವು ಧಾಳಿ ಮಾಡಿದಾಗ ಗೊತ್ತಿಲ್ಲದ ವೈರಸುಗಳು ವಾತಾವರಣಕ್ಕೆ ಚೆಲ್ಲಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತವೆ . ‘ Spill Over ‘ ಪುಸ್ತಕದ ಲೇಖಕ ಡೇವಿಡ್ ಕ್ಸಾಮೆನ್  ನ್ಯೂಯಾರ್ಕ್ ಟೈಮ್ಸ್ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದ ಲೇಖನದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯಪಟ್ಟಿರುವಂತೆ  ನಾವು ಮರಗಳನ್ನ ಕಡಿದು , ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳನ್ನ ಕೊಲ್ಲುವ ಮೂಲಕ ವೈರಸುಗಳ ಮೂಲತಾಣವನ್ನು ಅಲುಗಾಡಿಸಿಬಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೇವೆ . ತಮ್ಮ‌ ಮೂಲ ನೆಲೆಗಳನ್ನು  ಕಳೆದುಕೊಂಡ ವೈರಸುಗಳು ಆಸರೆ ಹುಡುಕುತ್ತ ಬಂದಾಗ,  ಆ  ಆಸರೆ ಮನುಷ್ಯರಾದ ನಾವೇ ಆಗಿರುವುದು ಈಗ ನಮ್ಮ ಕಣ್ಣ ಮುಂದೆ ಸಂಭವಿಸುತ್ತಿದೆ.  ಈ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟ ಶ್ರೇಣಿಗಳ ಜೀವ ವೈವಿಧ್ಯತೆಯನ್ನು ಈಗ ಹೇಗಿದೆಯೊ ಹಾಗೇ ಸಂರಕ್ಷಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದು ಇಂತಹ ಘಾತುಕ ವೈರಸುಗಳನ್ನು ತಡೆಯಲು ಇರುವ ಮುಖ್ಯ ವಿಧಾನ . ಈಗ ನಾವು ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟ ಸಾಲುಗಳ ಜೀವ ವೈವಿಧ್ಯತೆಯನ್ನು ಸಂರಕ್ಷಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳದಿದ್ದರೆ ಮುಂದಿನ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕವೇ ವೈರಸು ಸ್ಫೋಟ ಕೇಂದ್ರವಾಗಲಿದೆ.

ಪಶ್ಚಿಮಕ್ಕೆ ಹರಿಯುವ ನದಿಗಳನ್ನು ತಿರುಗಿಸುವುದು ಪಶ್ಚಿಮಘಟ್ಟಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ನೇರವಾಗಿ ಪರಿಣಾಮ ಬೀರುತ್ತದೆ. ಇದು ಪೂರ್ವಕ್ಕೆ ಹರಿಯುವ ಎಲ್ಲ ನದಿಗಳ ಮೇಲೂ ವ್ಯತಿರಿಕ್ತ ಪರಿಣಾಮ ಬೀರುತ್ತದೆ. ನಮ್ಮ ನದಿಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟಗಳನ್ನು ಉಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವಲ್ಲಿ ಸರಿಯಾದ ನಿರ್ಧಾರ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವಂತೆ ನಾವು ನಿಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ವಿನಂತಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇವೆ . ಹುಬ್ಬಳ್ಳಿ – ಅಂಕೋಲ ರೈಲು ಮಾರ್ಗ ಮುಂದುವರಿಯದಂತೆ ಸೂಕ್ತ ನಿರ್ಧಾರ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕೆಂದು ವಿನಂತಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಮಳೆಕಾಡುಗಳ ನಷ್ಟವನ್ನು ಯಾವುದೇ ಅರಣ್ಯನಾಶ ಸರಿದೂಗಿಸಲಾರದು.

ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಡಗಳನ್ನು ನಾಶ ಮಾಡಿದ ಬದಲಾಗಿ ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟಗಳನ್ನು ಸಂರಕ್ಷಿಸಿ ಮುಖ್ಯಮಂತ್ರಿಯಾಗಿ ತಾವು ಇತಿಹಾಸದಲ್ಲಿ ಉಳಿಯಬೇಕೆಂದು ನಾವು ಬಯಸಿದ್ದೇವೆ. ನಮ್ಮ ಮತ್ತು ಮುಂದಿನ ಪೀಳಿಗೆಗಾಗಿ ದಯವಿಟ್ಟು ಪಶ್ಚಿಮ ಘಟ್ಟಗಳನ್ನು ಸಂರಕ್ಷಿಸುವ ತೀರ್ಮಾನ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳಿ.


ತಮ್ಮ ವಿಶ್ವಾಸಿ,

ಕಾಳಜಿಯುಳ್ಳ ನಾಗರಿಕರಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬ/ಳು


Black gold

The desire for gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Being a woman, as I am expected to go ga-ga over gold, I chose a different colored one instead. Black gold. No, I don’t have any slick oil deals, but I stick to good old home-made compost. Rana and I were introduced into the world of solid waste

3 tier Kambha (small)

management when we worked with the dedicated teams of Citizen Matters and 2bin1bag. We haven’t stopped talking trash since then. One of the many things we learned in this journey was to keep our wet waste with us. Since we were planning to move homes, I thought of using a guinea pig – my father. He went in for a  home composter, the smallest earthen Kambha set from Daily Dump.

It has been fairly smooth sailing for him. He proudly says that not even a single curry leaf has left his home. The initial bag of remix powder (cocopeat) lasted him for nearly 12 months. In terms of investment, it has been quite minimal, even if you consider INR 140 for a remix bag! This is a system of aerobic composting, where the

Curry leaves and lemons harvested from my father's garden

Curry leaves and lemons harvested from my father’s garden

pots have holes in them, allowing for movement of air. Once you “prepare” a pot – that is, add a layer of newspaper, dry leaves and a few handfuls of remix powder or mature compost- all you need to do is add the wet waste and layer it with remix powder. No stirring required. You can do this ritual every day, or whenever you gather about a few handfuls of wet waste. He keeps his composting unit indoors, so that he doesn’t have to take extra precaution during rains. There is decent ventilation at home, and hence, there is no smell near the Kambha.

While he was midway into this journey, we shifted homes. We were looking for a unit for a four-member household and I thought of going in for


Notice the holes on the sides

two 55 ltr drums from Shudh Labh. This comes with a bottom tray, and the process is similar to Daily Dump’s Kambha, as this is also aerobic. One layer of “greens” (the wet waste) needs to be topped up with a layer of “browns” (microbial cocopeat, in this case). You might ask me, “Hey, but these drums are plastic!” Yes, of course, but this isn’t a single-use disposable. Just imagine, after every use, if I begin to throw these drums!


IMG_20161105_130727This was our first harvest of black gold, the mature compost – its fragrance reminding us of the wet earth after the first rains. We sieved it, because we thenIMG_20161105_133413 began to gift our compost. My mum-in-law says that in her days, she would prepare sweets, or sambar powder, or a special dish to gift her loved ones. Times


Half-done compost tells tales, of who sneaked in groundnuts while nobody was watching

are a-changing, and she now collects idli batter covers to gift compost 😀 The usual practice in any Indian home is to take guests around and show off our place. In our family, we show off our garbage. I mean, we show them all the wet waste that has been sitting around for months.


Mature compost, sieved

But this wasn’t without hiccups. My dad was layering wet waste with compost and saving


My mum-in-law cutting peels, to hasten the composting process.

on money. “Oh, you think I can’t do the same?” said the thought bubble in my head. So, at home, I advised everyone to use a mix of microbial cocopeat and mature compost for the layer of browns. They say, “penny wise pound foolish”, and for a good reason. After one of the drums filled up and we parked it aside for it to


White fungus on top, a sign of healthy compost

mature, it began giving out leachate in the tray below. The tray is there for that reason, but that didn’t necessarily mean we had to ensure it was used! What followed next was an exercise of drying out the half-done compost, adding a lot of extra microbial cocopeat to hold the moisture, and splitting this into two drums. In the process of trying to beat my father’s low spending, I ended up spending more money and time in fixing problems. Of course, we were rich with experience. I now gift free advice, tips and tricks along with home-made compost.

The time had come, again. Do we try a different method? I was still hell bent on cutting


No holes. What are friends for, if you don’t exchange composting bins? 😉

down on cost, you see. I was discussing these with my friends, gathering tips. Just then, my friend, Anjana, said she had moved to leave-it pots by Daily Dump. She offered to let me borrow her Trustbin bins. Now, this is a system of anaerobic composting, where the container doesn’t have any holes. You prepare the bin by adding a handful of jaggery, and place a tray on top of it. Add your wet waste, press it down to remove any extra air, and layer with two tablespoons of bran for every inch of wet waste. After a bin is full, keep it aside for a minimum of two weeks, where the wet waste ferments and gets “pickled”. This, is the first stage of the bokashi method. If you open the bin, you will get a strong, vinegar-like smell. You might take a bit of time getting used to it, but this is probably a point to be wary of, in this method.



Palak in our kitchen garden

In the second stage, you go back to aerobic method. Take out a layer of fermented pickle and add it to the aerobic container. Layer it with an equal quantity of already mature compost. I had a lot of the latter, anyway. So right now, I am using a combination of Trustbin containers for the first stage, with Shudh Labh drums for the second stage. Yup, I layer with mature compost and even then, the


Mum-in-laws green thumb, aided by home-made gobbara

pickle turned to black gold in just about two weeks! That was real quick 😀 I tried the second stage in a Daily Dump leave-it pot as well – the earthen pot absorbed not just the moisture, but also the rather strong smell of the fermented pickle.  Don’t try this combination, though, of using Daily Dump along with Bokashi.

Oh, you must be wondering about the jaggery. It has a role to play.  The anaerobic bin begins to give out a leachate – a liquid which gets generated from the wet waste, in combination with the bran. This liquid is highly nutritious and concentrated. You can harvest this “brew” once every few days. Mix it in a proportion of 1:30 and water your plants with it. Or, use it undiluted to de-clog your drains. I am testing out the brew in our kitchen garden and my father’s garden. Oh yes, our tomato plant is growing way out of control, and I don’t know if we should blame the brew 😉

Our composting journey has been fulfilling, and I must say I am addicted to it. I am proud to say that we keep all our wet waste with us. I prefer the daily dump earthen pots to the plastic drums, because by nature, the earthen pots absorb more moisture. In fact, sometimes they absorb so much moisture that your compost could be dry! In terms of


Lovely, beautiful white fungus in the bokashi unit.

cost and the fact that I am not always around to do firefighting of drum leakages, I would recommend either the Kambha or smaller drums (if you prefer plastic). The khamba is prone to breakage if you walk clumsily and knock it down. At the moment, I am enjoying making the brew and seeing the compost maturing so quickly. I must also add that after we shifted to bokashi, we have not seen any maggots in our compost. Note that maggots are absolutely harmless to humans, and are great for your compost.

If you are planning to get started on your composting journey, don’t think twice. Start right away – check SwachaGraha for more info 🙂 Please feel to ask questions, or share your tips and tricks in the comments section.


Maya Bazaar

posterBangalore Little Theatre (BLT) is back with yet another production, an original English language adaptation of 1950’s movie, Maya Bazaar. My father was a die-hard fan of the movie, and naturally, we watched it – not once, but several times. The original was in Telugu, a language I don’t understand much, but the movie had such a connection with its audience, we just connected with it. But it was then. Today’s audience cannot go ga-ga over S V Ranga Rao’s magic, or N T Rama Rao’s style or Relangi’s tomfoolery. This is exactly what drove BLT’s Sridhar Ramanathan to present the story in a modern context.

I admit I had my reservations. My mind said, “No, nobody can do justice to SVR, NTR, ANR and Savitri.” Last evening, I watched Maya Bazaar at Alliance Francaise – and, it was just awesome!


img_20161204_165230What an adaptation! Dang, I cannot reveal anything! Because you must watch it yourself to enjoy the production in all its glory. Superb comic timing, fantastic connections with current issues, and img_20161204_163742great performances. It is hard to pick a favorite, because everybody gave his/her 100% – including the percussionist sitting in the corner without a spotlight on him. But I cannot resist – I have to say that I absolutely loved the bird – the actor brought the bird to life, in looks and behaviour. My other favorite characters were Hidimbi, Ghatu and Lakshmana – had he been around, SVR would have joined the chorus of his evergreen song, this time in English, going “ta ding ta ding ta ding ding” 😀


Maya Bazaar, the epic fantasy film, is an adaptation of a popular folk tale, Sasirekha Parinayamfrom Mahabharata. It is set during the Pandavas’ exile or Aranya Parva; and hence, features in our blog 😉 The production gives out relevant messages to care about our environment, and needless to say, that’s close to my heart. Yet, I do have a small request to the team – if you can just replace some of the important props in the play with reusables (instead of disposables like paper cups, tissues and straws), your message will become that much more stronger and credible 🙂img_20161204_175512

There are three more shows in Bangalore – don’t miss them. You can book them on bookmyshow. Sit back and laugh out loud. Get lost in the magic of Maya Bazaar. And, here’s a special shout out to two friends in the production – Poornima Kannan (production and PR) and Anand Rajamani (actor, playing Ghatotkacha).


Behind the scenes of Maya Bazaar. Image credit: BLT

EDIT: The Maya team updated me today that they reuse all the paper cups, straws, tissue papers and every prop, across all the shows. During rehearsals, they bring their own reusable cutlery. Anand, the actor playing Ghatu, says,  “Our backstage team cribs if the articles are not found. The tissues are meticulously picked up by co artistes during the run of play. The crushed tissues double up to stuff the bag and make it appear bulky while it remains light.  And we printed the script just 8 or 10 copies for individuals who struggle to read off devices.”  —- isn’t that super cool?

Kudos, team Maya Bazaar. And thank you for this update – you guys made my day 🙂


Einstein: A Stage Portrait

You must be wondering what Einstein has to do with the theme of our blog, Aranya Parva. The “Man of the Century”, Einstein, also wondered why he had to do anything with the ‘Bomb’! The stage was set, and we watched Albert Einstein in his study.

Saturday are always hectic in Bangalore, because of Rana’s theory (of relativity) – some of the IT folks who use office transport – bless them – own cars and need to use them. So they get the cars out on Saturday and strangle the Bangalore roads. Despite that, Saturdays can be great, like the one that just went by. We reached St. Joseph’s College auditorium, said a quick hello to our good friend, Poornima Kannan, who was ushering in the audience for the play Einstein: A stage portrait. Bangalore Little Theatre and Azim Premji University, in association with St. Joseph’s College, have brought this play to Bangalore.IMG_20151205_193124728

The only thing missing was a glass of whiskey in our hands, because the whole experience felt like Einstein was sitting across the table, narrating the story of his life to us, in person. At the end of the play, it was hard to decide whom to appreciate better, the playwright or the artist. Williard Simms has woven the story of the Einstein in an intimate and riveting way, transporting us to a different world. The

Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

playwright has drawn details from Einstein’s letters to his son and daughter-in-law, and has presented every relevant detail in the manner of an intimate conversation. From the days when Einstein chased butterflies (Poornima would have definitely loved this part of his life story), to the days when he wrote to Roosevelt, Simms gives us the many facets of Einstein’s character that we would hardly know about. The scientist was charming, witty, funny, sensitive, and maybe sometimes selfish, arrogant, and most important of all, humane.


Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

When a playwright does such a fantastic job of characterization, an artist can only hope to do justice to the role. Tom Schuch does that, giving his everything to it, including his age. Delivering 46 pages of script is no mean feat, and to do that flawlessly with a slight hint of German accent takes not just dedication, but passion for one’s profession. Being a drama artist of All India Radio, and having had a brief stint with theatre/TV, I understand what goes behind portraying a role. All I can do is tell the artist, take a bow, for we stepped out of the auditorium with a feeling of having met the scientist himself. The reviews are spot on – that he is an actor’s actor and that this play is a “drama-logue” par excellence. Watch the trailer here. If you think the hair and make-up look awesome, listen to Tom laughing – I just loved it 😀


Image credit: Ashwini Visuals/BLT

One of Einstein’s quotes says, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. This brings the connection to our blog. Watch the play to understand and appreciate the man’s connections with what was happening around him and his train of thoughts. When he talks relativity again and again, you can’t help but think of the various projects that are being done at such a rapid pace, with little thought on their impacts. Remember, Einstein also said this: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space … Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

albertviolin_AFP_BIGThere are different shows scheduled for specific audiences across Bangalore. If you know it is scheduled in your organization, be there half an hour early 😉 Wherever in the world you are, if you hear about this play by Spoli Productions International in your locality,  don’t miss it! There is an additional bonus at the end of the play – a question and answer session with the actor and the playwright. Ask away and enjoy 🙂






By Balasaheb Pratinidhi (Chitra Ramayana) [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The death of a bird led to the birth of Valmiki’s Ramayana. Sage Valmiki headed out to take a dip in the river Tamasa. He decided to take a stroll before his bath, soaking in nature’s beauty. A little distance away were two birds, a male and female, completely engrossed in one other. Even as the sage watched, a hunter’s arrow killed the male. Overcome with grief (shoka), Valmiki uttered these words, which, even to his surprise, came out as a shloka – a verse perfect in rhyme and rhythm – and was the first ever Sanskrit verse.

मां निषाद प्रतिष्ठां त्वमगमः शाश्वतीः समाः।
यत्क्रौंचमिथुनादेकम् अवधीः काममोहितम्॥

mā niṣāda pratiṣṭhāṁ tvamagamaḥ śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
yat krauñcamithunādekam avadhīḥ kāmamohitam



A Pelican and Other Birds Near a Pool, known as ‘The Floating Feather

The verse roughly translates to, “Oh hunter, may you repent for life and suffer, find no rest or fame, for you have killed one of the unsuspecting, devoted and loving krauñcha couple.” Of the several interpretations, one says the hunter is the demon Ravana, who separated the loving couple, Sita and Rama.

My Sanskrit teacher in school, Mrs. Sulabha V Hubli, explained ma nishada in great detail with its many meanings and interpretations, imprinting the epic scene on my memory. A few months ago, I had attended Shyamal’s talk, where he discussed Melchior de Hondecoeter’s 1680 artwork, Het drijvend veertje, one of the most accurate representations of the Sarus Crane. The Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) at the center of the frame got me thinking about this verse again.

Was it the Sarus that Valmiki referred to? In different literature, the  krauñcha has been described as a dove, flamingo, swan, snipe, curlew or even a Demoiselle Crane. The wiki for Demoiselle Crane has a reference to krauñcha and Valmiki. However, more recent studies have established the identity of Valmiki’s krauñcha pair as Sarus Cranes.


Sarus Cranes in a grassland, Keoladeo National Park

As the story goes, the female lamented with a pitch and tonal quality so deep in emotion, that compassion welled up within Valmiki. Julia Leslie’s paper, A bird bereaved, does an exhaustive study of the verse, considering thirty two separate species, and eliminating all but one, the Sarus Crane.


Sarus Cranes in Keoladeo National Park

Literature says the name Sarus came from the Sanskrit word sarasa, pertaining to lake, water. Sarasa explains the habitat of the crane – wetlands, grasslands, marshes and [un]cultivated fields. Another study talks about the word relating to any crane or waterfowl, but it also translates to crying or calling out.  In Tamil, the word sarasa is closely related to dance – which relates to the “dancing” movements of these birds, not only during the breeding season. They are famous for their fascinating display, with perfect poise and calling in unison. They jump, bow and circle around, stand in front of each other, swinging their necks. One may jump and descend flapping its wings. Oh, how I wish I could see this someday 🙂

We did see this graceful pair foraging in the fields at Lesser Rann of Kutch. How time flew, we never realized, for they were a treat to watch. That they decided to call, was an icing on the cake.


Source: Gallery of Indian miniature paintings, National Museum, New Delhi

While Valmiki’s Ramayana gave a poetic introduction to the tallest flying birds, Emperor Jehangir pioneered in noting its behavioral ecology and natural history, in early 17th century. Again, one of his notes also refers to a crane’s pining, its mournful notes, after its mate was predated. Although all cranes bond for life, it is the Sarus that is a symbol of marital fidelity. The Emperor was so interested in these cranes that he had also gold-ringed a few of them on their noses and legs!


An etymology of krauñcha says that it is the one that gives out calls. This bird with its grey plumage is described as the one with the red head (raktamoordha). In fact, Valmiki’s description of  tamra sirsa (coppery head) aided in identifying the krauñcha in his story.


There are references to instances where bereaved Sarus Cranes have pined away to death. You may call this poignant episode and the female lamenting as anthropomorphic. Maybe it is, maybe it is not. All I can say is,  most of mankind has transformed into a more vicious form of the hunter of Valmiki’s story. To make our lives better – be it in the form of more money, better infrastructure, real estate, agriculture – we destroy  homes of not only the Sarus Crane, but of many other wild citizens. We kill them without giving a second thought. The Sarus Crane will continue to lament. There are people who narrate those stories. But will the audience read, listen and care?




Celebrating art and natural history

Everyone would love to draw or doodle. If you master the art, every boring class or meeting can suddenly become that much more interesting. However, it’ll be better if you draw or sketch for the love of it, for you can create something you’ll cherish for a long time to come. SugSketch0002Apart from playing book cricket in classes or doodling during meetings, I enjoyed sketching. Of course, I hadn’t mastered it, I would only copy the masters. Bill Waterson, for example – as a tribute to the master, this one hung on my cubicle wall. The scan looks a bit yellowed, and sure enough, indicates that this is an “antique” artwork 😉

It was more fun to draw animals, though, but my sketches were mostly those of bears (Barney Bear), pigs(Porky Pig), Looney Tunes or stuffed tigers

SugSketch0003Apart from a postal course in art from Santhanu’s Chitra Vidyalayam, I didn’t dabble much with sketching, other than the occasional doodling while dawdling. Things changed, when I began watching birds. We learnt from experts and ornithologists; a common point everybody mentioned was to draw. Watch the birds, draw what you see, note down the details. Obviously, you may not be able to replicate the bird, but you can definitely observe its posture, the colors on its head, wings and beak, whether it walks or hops and a hundred other things that a bird can do. So there I was, back into sketching. My sketches were horrible, but that didn’t matter at all, because all that mattered was the learning.

This year, National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru (NGMA) was celebrating art & natural history, on the occasion of World Environment Day. It was a three-day event with two 20150606_110529workshops, a film festival and a conversation on animal illustrations in India. I was thrilled, because one of the workshops was for adults. Finally! I would get jealous of the kids who get to learn nature journaling from Sangeetha Kadur and Shilpa of Greenscraps – both very fine nature and wildlife artists and wonderful teachers, but who haven’t yet agreed to many of our requests to conduct workshops for adults 😉 At NGMA, there was a two-part workshop on scientific drawing of animals conducted by Ms. Tatiana Petrova. She is a Russian wildlife artist and 20150606_110800ornithologist, who recently completed her dissertation on the history of ornithological illustrations of Indian birds in lithographs of XIX century.

A few of her works were on display at the NGMA library.  Shyamal L and MB Krishna guided some of us through the display which ranged from watercolors and woodcuts to lithographs and oil pastels. Later, Shilpa explained what goes into making some of them, and that was an eye-opener. The cats, birds, geckos – mind-blowing art. I was glad I didn’t miss the event.


During the workshop, she took us along the timeline of the history of art in the natural world – from imaginary creatures and crude drawings to precise representations, art in nature and wildlife has come a long way. She told us about the very same techniques that our mentors had taught us earlier, of how to draw the key features and a bit of the habitat, while on the field. Additionally, she introduced us to “schemes” – more like skeletal line drawings for insects/animals/birds – on top of which one can develop the final sketch.


My incomplete sketches from the workshop: bird anatomy scheme, bird expressions and Khaleej Pheasant (while watching a video clip)

She said, most people make the mistake of drawing the legs from the belly, or the tail seems to be “growing” out of the wrong place. There were important points that she drove home – like the joints on the limbs which make for a much better sketch – simple techniques, simple because she made them look so but points which we would otherwise fail to note.

Day two involved an exercise of sketching while watching videos of animals and birds in action. Wow, doing a simple copy itself was a big task and this seemed impossible!


Marmots from my A4 pages – drawn while watching a video clip played in a loop

But she gave us a few tips and tricks. More than the sketching experiment, I enjoyed watching her in action. She was fast, observing even the smallest details and producing art of the finest nature. Later, some of us (participants) exchanged “notes” and it was great fun to admire each other’s art 😉

The event ended with the ‘Drawn to the Wild: A Conversation on Animal Illustrations in India’ by  Shyamal and Tatiana. It was a journey they took us along, bringing to us the art that we don’t normally get to see. I am not qualified to even go ga-ga over Shyamal’s research and knowledge, but all I can say is that if you haven’t heard him yet, you really haven’t done the right thing. During the talk, Shyamal and Tatiana discussed many images, one of which was the one below. Note the Sarus Crane in the middle – I am mentioning this in particular, because two of our upcoming posts relate to cranes – Demoiselle and Sarus. Stay craned!


Melchior de Hondecoeter Birds in a Park 1680″ by Melchior d’Hondecoeter – Art Renewal Center – description. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons


Further reading:

Painting the town red, green, yellow and every other colour

It is habba (festival) time in Bengaluru, with our city celebrating Neralu, the festival of trees. I got this opportunity to write about my experiences at Neralu for Citizen Matters. Thank you CM! Here is the link:

I am posting the contents of the article here.


It is that time of the year when some fellow Bengalureans will together paint the town red. Or yellow, purple, orange, pink, violet; name it and you’ll see the colour. Those Bengalureans are our beloved trees, getting into bloom, making namma Bengaluru look vibrant and pretty.

It was a nippy and chirpy Saturday morning, with the White-cheeked Barbets calling tirelessly. Being a ‘true South Indian’, I had to complete my ritual of one cup of strong filter coffee, even at the risk of getting late. I still managed to reach in time for Neralu’s opening activity, Katte Parichaya by Kiran Keswani and team at Doddamavalli Katte. If you thought this city doesn’t wake up early on weekends, you should have been there to see the crowd gathered in front of the Ashwath Katte, intently listening.

_46A2651Kiran and team spoke about Katte and the trees (that sounds a bit like ‘Swami and friends’, doesn’t it?), sharing interesting stories and facts, such as the Hindu divine trinity, paganism, the innumerable uses of the Peepal tree, community space, and even the ‘marriage’ between Peepal and Neem! Tree lovers gushed with pride, pointing to the crowd to crane their necks and have a look at the Mahua tree standing tall next to the Bisilu Maramma shrine. I smiled at the canopy, at the green leaves fluttering against the pleasant blue background.


Business was as usual at the santhe, but this time, with a difference, because the vendors and customers had lent one of their ears to Neralu. The Parichaya was an interactive session, with many experiences exchanged, from Kattes in different parts of the country and ‘somari (lazy) Kattes’ to college Kattes.  It took me back to my school days, when we, siblings, had to gather the fallen twigs of the Arali mara (Peepal) once a year, for one of the rituals at home. For the twig-gathering, we would visit three Kattes nearby, the ones near Dodda Ganesha temple, Bull Temple and Mallikarjuna Swamy temple.

The Neralu team had made these colourful Katte postcards to be posted to friends and family, inviting them to Neralu. What a lovely concept! Kids rushed to write on their cards and post them in the cute little Neralu letter box.

This old lady, frail and beautiful, picked up a card and examined it for a long while. Could she send it to someone? Did she keep it for herself? I’ll probably never know, but I’ll cherish the memory; that she had a Neralu card with her.


I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out to National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). It was so open, so inviting, and so green. It was indeed festival time! There were maps to guide us to different ‘in-tree-esting’ activities, and friendly volunteers were running around, just like busy ants on trees. I even got my wrist stamped with Neralu.

The first floor had me soaked with information and titbits, as I walked in awe, looking at the selections from a larger exhibition on the lesser-known flora and fauna of the Western Ghats. Sigh, I wish I had at least nine lives to see all of those in person. My family and I walked over to the photo project. Over 40 photographs were on display, each telling a different, lovely, picturesque story about trees. One of the photographs was mine and Rana’s. I quietly danced a little jig! 🙂

My next morning was again a Neralu morning at MN Krishna Rao Park. The Kaleido group ran around the park, announcing “Banniri banniri, natakava nODiri”, inviting everyone to watch their play. The artists clad in red and black entertained the crowd, with witty dialogues and thought-provoking concepts. We didn’t need a laughter club that day to laugh out loud! I felt my eyes going moist when the artist said he moved out of Bendaluru to Neraluru. With my garden city boiling and baking, the name Bendaluru hurt.
pic_article_Neralu_Sugandhi__4_The crowd split into two groups for the tree walks. I joined the one led by Narayan. He made it very interesting, sharing stories from his grandparents, and asking us to name the trees based on what we felt, telling us how to differentiate between the Teak and Kanaka Champa. He took us to the Mast tree and asked, “Which tree is this?” Pat came the answer, “Asoka”. He asked, “Do you think Sita would’ve had any shade under this tree?” Now, that question made sure that nobody from his audience will ever mistake the Mast tree for the Asoka!


I had to excuse myself at this point, for I had to run to one of my favourite Neralu activities – Yoga under trees. The instructor, Namrata Sudhindra, was brilliant. She taught us asana after asana, without a break, and I didn’t realize how time flew. It was peaceful under the shade of the trees, and as she promised, I can still feel the energy flowing through me. [Image courtesy: Sudarshan Gadadhar]


One of the vendors at the Katte Santhe

Unless we know about trees, we will never learn to respect or treasure them. We need to celebrate trees and our natural heritage. Neralu is becoming addictive, a habba that we all look forward to. This is the second year in succession that Bengaluru is celebrating trees. Here’s kudos to the team bringing this festival to us. Do catch the rest of the Neralu activities on February 14th.


2 bin 1 bag

Bengaluru, once known as garden city, is now notorious as the garbage city. Thousands of tons of solid waste are generated in our city, everyday. Have a look at these shocking images from Mandur landfill. The residents protested enough and their voices were heard. 20141203_164556Dumping has been stopped at Mandur. But the day isn’t far away when some other area becomes a Mandur, unless we take responsibility.

That’s exactly what proactive citizens from Bellandur ward in Bengaluru did.  They formed a group called Kasa Muktha Bellandur, KMB, began managing their waste responsibly and are also being humane to people who handle waste. They began a citizen initiative called 2bin1bag, to segregate garbage at source. The entire process is well documented on their website, the formula itself is very easy and it instantly cuts down on plastic bags. It also ensures that very little goes to the landfill, because if we manage waste, then 95% of it can either be recycled or composted. They have tied up with other groups and vendors who manage garbage – which means that a vendor would actually *pay* to collect dry and/or wet waste from your homes!

So, our blog is Aranya Parva, and what does the “book of the forest” have to do with garbage? A forest definitely doesn’t have to do anything 20141203_170112with garbage, but the sad reality is that forests are being taken over for garbage dumping. We cannot write about the forest if forests no longer remain. And hence, this blog post.

Sugandhi and I got an opportunity to work with  the KMB team  on a short film that explains how easy it is to segregate 🙂 We made the film in English and Kannada, with one professional artist and some first timers, including a very smart young boy and a lovable, well-behaved puppy! There were two Malayalis who managed to speak well in Kannada, and there was one father-in-law, mine. I’ll stop the description there 😀 It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience where we learnt a lot. Please watch these films, share them widely, and more importantly, begin segregation 🙂

We are also in the process of gathering volunteers in our ward. Hopefully, our street will hop onto the 2bin1bag bandwagon soon. Until then, adios!

English version:

Kannada version:

Please take a moment to sign this petition and help the KMB volunteers take this plea to BBMP to ban plastic in Bengaluru.



The two-headed snake, not!

We were at Dholavira, one of the five largest Harappan sites. The details that had gone into planning and building the city are mind-blowing. However, I’ll save it for a different post, because something else caught our eye in the dry and arid region.

It was slithering and shining, the sun rays dancing on its reddish brown body. It didn’t stop for a moment, disappearing behind the scrubby vegetation. It seemed to live up to its characteristic feature, almost saying “timid and shy and scared am I, to face a world of men”. _46A8506Obviously scared, because men (read: humans) aren’t really being nice to it.

“Domuha saab, domuha!” shouted the driver. One of the local names, in Hindi, for the Red Sand Boa is do-muha, meaning two-headed snake. That is exactly what it is not! This snake has a rather blunt tail,  which cheats the onlooker to believe that it has two heads, one at each end. The tail is usually slightly darker than the rest of the body.The tail

The burrower that it is, it went in and out of burrows, until it finally decided to stay put in one. Red Sand Boa is said to be nocturnal, but we don’t have an inkling into why it appeared in broad daylight.

Did you know that this is an ovoviviparous snake? The eggs hatch inside the female’s body. So what’s so interesting about a slithering beauty, that isn’t venomous, and does not even have a record of having bitten anyone till date?

I started reading more about the Red Sand Boa.

Kerala 2014. Chennai 2014. Hyderabad 2014. Mumbai 2014. Coimbatore 2012. Bangalore 2010.

These are just some of the dates when harmful creatures (again read: humans) were captured, because they had in their possession these absolutely harmless Red Sand Boas. These are instances when action was taken, but who knows how many cases go unreported?

A report says that at a time when the real-estate business took a hit (yes, such a thing does happen sometimes in India), the businessmen began looking out. Not for an alternate profession, not for alternate strategies, but for Red Sand Boas! One of the many myths surrounding these snakes is that they bring luck. Yeah, right. Its “luck” can barely save its own life! Oh wait, luck is not the only reason. The gullible, senseless, heartless people want the snake as an aphrodisiac. Every animal in our forests seems to have “aphrodisiac powers”. And then there are the black magic practitioners, who promise that these snakes act as guides to find hidden treasure.

“Do you want a juvenile, or a hatchling male?  Maybe a pair?” “Does anyone have a Double Engine? I want 4.5 kgs, any number of pieces that you have.” “I want it for agriculture.” “I want it as a pet.” “Call me on *******, name your price.” These are comments that appear on websites that trade in snakes, and even on YouTube. Just Google for Red Sand Boa and be ready for a shock on how open this trade is. People readily give away mobile numbers, stating their eagerness (desperation ?) to sell or buy.

Here’s one of the weirdest myths. According to some retards, a long long time ago, an iridium isotope fell on earth. Somehow the iridium made its way into the tissues of the Red Sand Boa. Voila! You have instant access to a bit of magic and supernatural powers. This “bio-iridium” doesn’t stop just there. It now automatically becomes a rice puller. “Rice what ?” did you say? Rana and I sat with our jaws touchingRPcoin the floor, reading all this material. The “story” goes that around 1616, the East India Company manufactured crude coins. Made of copper-iridium, these coins were rice pullers, literally pulling rice. While these coins are the “most prized rice pullers”, supposedly there are also utensils, jewelry, statues and Red Sand Boas.

But why would anyone want to “pull” rice? The superstitious fools equate it to pulling wealth. Iridium-based alloys are said to attract rice or any cereal, due to the inherent property of iridium being able to attract the negative charge in the hydrocarbons. I am not stating any fact here, this is what I have read. And the poor snake is caught in this baloney. I haven’t found any scientific reference for the presence of iridium in boas.

Frightening to read these? It has been scarier to write about it. There are huge gangs operating around this scam, conning people that they can become rich overnight. The price for a snake runs in lakhs if sold locally, and crores internationally. If you thought poaching was only about tigers, think again. People are taking to illegal wildlife trade to make a quick big buck. Though the Red Sand Boa is listed under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is one of the most sought after._46A8513

I have written more about the dangers it is facing. This is with the hope that when you hear about such superstitions, you will educate people against  illegal wildlife trade. You may hear about someone wanting more wealth, or your maid may give away her plans to make some quick money, or your native village maybe abuzz with this business. Please educate them. Please report any such occurrence.

Thank you. Wish you a happy new year and a great 2015!



Our iceberg is melting

If you are fighting for the environment, they’ll brand you a “boring activist”. If you are fighting to bring about policy change, they’ll yawn and say, “No please, no gyaan!” These are tough subjects, tough to get people to listen to you, tough to draw their attention to see the problem. But someone in Bangalore has found a fun way to do just that!

Iceberg-is-melting2Rana and I got front row seats at ADA Rangamandira on Saturday evening. Oh wait, we had to a fair bit of fighting to get there, fighting against traffic, and glad to be on time to watch Bangalore Little Theatre’s annual production, “Our iceberg is melting”.


Pic courtesy: Poornima Kannan

This lovely musical took us into a land of snow and ice, where the penguin wobbles and the seagull flies. A jolly group of young Emperor Penguins goes about its daily routine, while one of them, Fred, notices a rather alarming situation. Their home is melting and something has to be done, immediately, before winter sets in. The play is about the challenges Fred faces in getting his community to understand the problem. Do the penguins get together and find a solution? It is for you to watch and find out!

This musical is an original adaptation, based on Harvard professor, John Kotter‘s well-known management parable by the same name.


Pic courtesy: Poornima Kannan

This is the time when all global leaders are talking about climate change, and this musical couldn’t have asked for a better time! Whether you are interested in tacking climate issues, or understanding how to apply the lessons the penguins learnt in your own situation, this musical is for you. We could face challenges at our workplace or at home, where we know that a problem exists. While some might see the magnitude of the problem, some won’t see any problem. It is one challenge to see a problem, help others see and feel, but it is another mammoth task to arrive at a solution. The musical throws insights into how that can be done.

Here is a promo video for the play. We enjoyed that evening of song 20141115_193209and dance, matched with a great laser show and Chris Avinash’s catchy tunes. Young and old joined the penguins in their plight and partying. The show is on for the rest of the Fridays and weekends of November 2014. Do book your show and be there. Kids will love this, because this will most probably be their first close encounter with cute penguins, some tall, some chubby, some chatty and some naughty!


Pic courtesy: Poornima Kannan




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