NARRATIVES: Understanding development and ecology with Dr MD Subhash Chandran

img_20161122_122753430On 22nd December, 2016, the members of the group met Dr MD Subhash Chandran, a scientist and researcher at Indian Institute of Science. As we interacted with Mr. Subhash Chandran, he gave us some insights into how ‘development’ has been harmful to the ecology of Aghanashini and the surrounding region.

Mr. Chandran told us about the relevance of understanding the concept of an estuary. It is important for us to not understand the estuary as merely a part of the sea or river, but also understand its role and effects on livelihoods. The nutrients present within the estuary, make it a breeding hotspot for different species of fish. The mangroves present on the estuary, provide shelter to young fish that attach themselves to its roots. Another added advantage of estuary fishing is that it faces no ban during monsoons, unlike deep sea or coastal fishing, helping smaller fishermen to sustain themselves.

Such pertinent details are missing in the EIA study conducted in the area by NEERI, which hasn’t fully understood the estuary for what it is, and its role and benefits.

Development culture, he says has affected the way we ‘see’ anything, instead of seeing kagga rice fields, we see ‘aquaculture’, and instead of understanding the value of an estuary, we are more concerned with moving ahead with the construction of a port in the area. In the process, many traditional, sustainable cultures subsistent on the rich ecology of the region have been displaced or are under threat with the coming in of development interventions.

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