Western Ghats Current Affairs - 2019
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The persistent efforts of the Intellectual Property Rights cell of the Kerala Agriculture University have finally yielded results. The Marayur Jaggery largely produced in the regions of Marayur and Kanthallur grama panchayats of Kerala has got the GI tag.
Geographical Indication (GI) is a name or sign used on products which correspond to a specific geographical location or origin. Geographical Indication act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.
Marayoor in the Idukki district of Kerala is known for its tensive sugarcane cultivation. In the regions of Marayur and Kanthallur, more than 2500 acres of land is under sugarcane cultivation.
The peculiar geographical location of Marayoor amid the forests of the Western Ghats gives the sugar cane a distinct geographical identity. The local people have integrated the age-old tradition have imparted age-old specialized skill to make Marayur Jaggery a distinct product in itself.
The distinct features of the Marayur Jaggery are high sweetness with less saltiness, high content of iron and less sodium. The produce is free of impurities and the sugar cane fields are free of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
The Marayur Jaggery is produced without adding any chemicals has always been known for its high quality. Eyeing the market of the traditional Marayur Jaggery fake jaggery with a salty taste was being marketed as Marayur jaggery. The GI tag will now enable to initiate legal action against fake jaggery being sold as Marayur Jaggery.
An Indian Research team comprising of T V Ramachandra and S Bharath (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore); S Vinay and A. Shashishankar (Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum, India) undertook a study to examine the possible impact of unplanned development on Ecology of Central Western Ghats.
The study focussed on River Kali that originates in Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka and joins the Arabian Sea. The river has six major dams, 325 species of flora, and 190 species of fauna and the river is as old as the Western Ghats.
Findings of the Study
The important findings highlighted in the study are:
- Unplanned developmental activities and land use patterns are reducing the evergreen forest cover and perennial streams in the central region of the Western Ghats in India.
- Researchers by studying the remote sensing data found that between the years 1973 and 2016, the forest cover has reduced from 85% to 55%.
- The land use pattern in the region has changed during 1980–2000 period due to developmental projects such as dams built on the river Kali, Kaiga nuclear plant and Dandeli paper mill which has led to large scale destruction of forests.
- As a result, the evergreen forests have shrunk by from 62% to 38.5% during 1980–2000 period and large water reservoirs have been constructed at the expense of forest cover.
- Even though River Kali has sufficient water supply and perennial streams in the Ghats and coastal areas, Regions that lie in plain lands with a higher degree of agriculture and cultivation have an intermittent and seasonal flow that has led to water scarcity for 4 to 9 months in a year.
- The study citing Perennial streams were found in regions that have greater than 70% of forest cover links ecology and hydrology with land use.
- Researchers propose that Forests with native species of vegetation play a pivotal role in enhancing the water retention capability of the catchment.
- The findings of the study show that Villagers in the vicinity of native forests earn Rs 1.54 lakh per acre per year compared to Rs 32,000 in villages with stream catchments experiencing deforestation. This confirms the vital role of native forests in sustaining water and people’s livelihood.
The study concludes that management practices adopted by engineers were contributing to the erosion of water retention capability in the river catchment with severe water scarcity. The study recommends government agencies to establish better management and conservation strategies to maintain forest cover for food and water security.