Prof Swaminathan on rebuilding Kerala


In the backdrop of the recent Kerala floods, Prof Swaminathan has provided some suggestions about re-building a new Kerala.  His statement is given here:

“Now that the floods are receding, there is increasing interest in building a new Kerala characterised by climate resilience. The new Kerala should provide for climate risk management centres and for shelters to those affected by natural calamities. Climate risks include damage caused by sea level rise. There are large numbers of people in Kerala living near the coast and it is important that they are insulated from the adverse effect of climate change. Particular provision should be made for housing climate refugees who are rendered homeless. I hope there will be a serious discussion on the development of a new Kerala based on sound principles of ecology, economics, employment and gender and social equity. The new Kerala could then become the flagship of the sustainable development decade.”

With respect to tackling immediate concerns, Prof Swaminathan says, “An inter-disciplinary committee could be set up to mitigate hardship during similar future rain-induced problems. I have dealt with these in several reports, lectures and in the Kuttanad package. Immediately, there have to be programmes aiming at the rehabilitation of agriculture and the plantation industry. At the same time, drinking water supply should receive overriding priority. It is essential to avoid water borne diseases. For the future, we should set up in every Panchayat a Rainfall Management Centre which will prepare both drought and flood codes for anticipatory action. For example, immediately in the case of agriculture, farmers need seeds or planting materials. The appropriate varieties will have to be provided. This will need building of Seed Banks for use on occasions like this. I hope the calamity caused by the floods will become an opportunity for a flood tolerant agriculture. At the same time, the human dimension of flood management needs adequate attention.”

The Kerala flood also washed away resource-rich soil in many parts. He said, “There is also need to study the impact of floods in the coastal regions of Kerala (old Travancore area) which contain radioactive minerals like Thorium. Such monazite sands need to be conserved since they provide raw material for nuclear power plants. I hope this urgent task will be undertaken by the Kerala Science and Technology Commission. Thorium came to our help when we were denied uranium.