Save Western Ghat Campaign has released a first-ever citizen's manifesto on Western Ghats. In a press release jointly issued by environment activists Sudhirendar Sharma, Pandurang Hegde, A Latha, and Archana Godbole, campaign has said that this is to bring the critical issues afflicting this 1,600 km mountainous stretch along the west coast, that is "gateway to monsoons and hotspot of biodiversity" to light. Some of the major demands of the citizen's manifesto are:
- Political commitment to protect the natural forests is critical to the water security of south India, especially the flows in rivers like Cavery, Tungabhadra and Krishna. This will also help in attaining the power security for the region.
- Regeneration of the forests by indigenous species rather than exotic species.
- Forest dwellers should not be resettled for establishing National Parks, instead community be given right to collect forest produce for livelihood security.
- Dam building across the rivers in Western Ghats needs to be stopped and a review of existing dams needs to be done at the earliest.
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Act should be implemented specifically for ecological rehabilitation in Western Ghats.
- Western Ghats needs to be declared `GM free', as it being the center of biodiversity for numerous plants, crops, and wild products that provide food and ecological security. Introduction of GM will unleash dreadful consequences.
- A series of mega thermal power plants are being established in Konkan and along West Coast. This will lead to increased climate change causing changes in micro climate affecting the cultivation of the famous "Alphonso" mango.
There are 32 parliamentary constituencies coming under Western Ghats region from Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The activists of Save Western Ghats will campaign in these constituencies impressing upon major political parties as well as candidates to work towards meeting these demands.
The activists will also meet the prospective candidates and get a letter-of-commitment form them assuring their support towards holistic policies to conserve the Western Ghats and to give voice to the voiceless Sahyadri Mountains. Once elected they would help to form a lobbying group called MPs Forum for Western Ghats in Lok Sabha and for reforming the polices that impact the region.
This is the first time a people's manifesto is being issued on ecologically important mountain range like Western Ghats. This was prepared after consulting 85 non-government & research organisations and 8000 people from five states. The campaign hopes to get support from all the major political parties contesting from this region.