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Jayashree Nandi 2013/06/05
In the 1970s, environmentalists made history. They stopped a Kerala government hydel project on Kunthipuza River that cuts through Silent Valley and sealed the Valley from development projects. The save-Silent Valley stir ended in 1983 and is an example of people’s resistance to environmentallydestructive projects. Herpetologist Romulus Whitekar was among the first to write of the valley’s richness and the need to protect it. “I was impressed with the sanctity of this undisturbed forest,” he recalls. M K Prasad, member, Kerala Sashthra Sahitya Parishad brought people together, inspired them to confront the authorities. “All political parties were for the project. We built a team of experts who wrote an environmental impact assessment which gave the pros and cons of the project and alternate proposals that’d benefit all.” It took more than a decade before then PM Indira Gandhi declared Silent Valley a protected area. People’s participation was the highlight of the movement, recalls ecologist Madhav Gadgil.