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Bahuguna to lend strength to movement to save Sharavati

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, JAN. 6. Gandhian and one of the leaders of the Chipko movement (its members save forests by `hugging' trees), Sunderlal Bahuguna, is to join hands with environmentalists in Uttara Kannada to save the Sharavati.

On January 20, along with John Seed, an Australian fighting to save the rainforests of that country, he will inaugurate a march from the Sharavati's source — `Ambuteertha' in Shimoga district — to the mouth of the river.

Mr. Bahuguna is no stranger to environmental activism in Karnataka. In 2003, he launched the `Kali Bachao Andolan' to save the famous black waters of that river from extinction.

Awareness

According to Panduranga Hegde from Sirsi, the march is meant to create awareness about the slow destruction of the river's catchment area.

"Our aim is to make people realise the importance of watersheds, to understand the historical aspects of the river and its impact on the people living along its banks and to study the forest and biodiversity in the region," he told presspersons here on Thursday.

The march is also meant to understand the problems of fishermen who eke out a living from the river and its coast.

"We also want to evolve a development strategy for the Sharavati Valley with the participation of the people there," Mr. Hegde said.

According to him, the river is one of the most important west-flowing rivers in Southern India. "From `Ambuteertha,'

the river flows towards thewest coast 132 km to Honnavar in Uttara Kannada district."

The route taken by Mr. Hegde and his colleagues, P.N. Narasimha Murthy of Hosanagara and Hoovayya Gouda from Shimoga, will pass through remote forest villages such as Sampekatte, Nittur, Tumari, Biligar and Kanur Kote as well as the famous Jog Falls.

Protected area

The two-week programme will involve students, scientists, writers and the local people.

Mr. Hegde described the Sharavati Valley as the `Silent Valley' of Karnataka, after the famous region of that name in Kerala. "Silent Valley has been protected because it is home to the lion-tailed macaque; the Sharavati Valley also has the same species. It is also home to 18 endemic species of plants," he said.

Apart from the march, the activists have planned street plays, workshops, slide shows and village meetings to create awareness on environmental issues. "We invite people to join in this unique effort to save the Sharavati," Mr. Hegde added.

Those interested can contact Mr. Hegde on (08384) 225139 or email: appiko@sancharnet.in; Mr. Narasimha Murthy on (08185) 221874/221366 or Mr. Gouda on (08182) 240435.

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