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Turning Nature On Its Head

The Khijadiya coastal marshlands off the Gulf of Kutchh in Gujarat. Photo: Amish Patel.

There is exquisite beauty in function. The tooth of a tiger. Bird feathers. Amphibian skin. Leaf-littered water – all perfection personified.

Consider the magic unfolding in this idyllic image of the Khijadiya coastal marshlands just off the Gulf of Kutchh in Gujarat. Inundation and evaporation operate in concert here to conjure circumstances in which this wonderland cycles and regulates three gases critical to life on earth – oxygen, carbon dioxide and methane. Equally, the bio-geochemistry of Khijadiya transforms nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, manganese and sulphur into life itself.

Wetlands are among the richest repositories of biodiversity in the world.

Nature feeds us. Clothes us. Delights us. Protects us. What exactly is it about nature that our planners do not like, I wonder? Could they actually believe that trundling over ecosystems as fragile and life-saving as forests, rivers, coasts and wetlands can improve the human condition?

I have dealt with enough power-brokers to know that they are purposeful and grasping beyond belief. Given half a chance they would cheerfully turn our world upside down in an attempt to refashion it in their flawed vision. It therefore remains the task of the legion of conservationists, writers, thinkers and scientists around the world, who see life’s tapestry being torn asunder, to stop the carnage.

But if the grasping ones are totally fixated on seeing things turned upside down, they might consider practicing Salamba Sirsasana, the famous yoga head-stand pose. That should do the trick.

Alternatively, they might consider staring fixedly at this page, printed upside down for the convenience of the wrecking brigade, so they can feast their eyes on their unattainable dream, without in reality turning nature on its head… the way they did in Uttarakhand. At such a tragic cost of human life.

by Bittu Sahgal, First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia Vol. XXXIII No. 4, August 2013.


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