Justice Saldanha talks on City’s Burning Issues
Mangaluru: Michael Francis Saldanha, popularly known as M. F. Saldanha, an Indian judge (Mumbai and Karnataka HC) and former Justice of the Bombay High Court had an interaction with media persons about the burning issues of Mangaluru, ranging from illegal trafficking and slaughter of cows; chopping down of trees to make way for new roads and buildings; Destruction of fish and other water creatures even when there is a ban on fishing during certain months; horrifying situation of number of deaths due to road accidents due to the carelessness of traffic authority and district administration; rainwater harvesting to be compulsory for new buildings; atrocities by the police force during 2008 Church attacks in Mangaluru and other issues.
Justice Saldanha who has his roots in Mangaluru and visits the City often styles himself as a Son of the Soil and is reputed Nationally and Internationally for his contribution to the field of Law but he is also known as the Green Judge having delivered over 161 Landmark Judgement in the field of Environment. He is the only Indian Judge who regularly lectures at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC in the US and who has been honoured at the World Environment Conference with the distinction of inaugurating it at Monterrey in the USA. But every time he visits his hometown, he gets disappointed to see that the green nature is missing, with trees being axed down for the construction of roads and multi-storeyed buildings. Saldanha who calls himself as “Nature Diva” lambasted at the city authorities for their nonsense decision of getting rid of grown trees.
The Main topics that Justice Saldanha covered during the interaction were he said:
– The horrifying levels of destruction of Green Cover and interference with the environment through levelling of the hills and destruction of the Water Bodies including the indiscriminate discharge of effluents into the Sea and the Rivers. Although the people of Goa are fighting to restore the coconut tree, it should also be done in DK, and make sure no coconut trees are cut to give way for buildings and roads. Mangaluru which was green decades back is all full of concrete structures-feel too sad to see it. Felling of 478 trees on 5.89 acres of land for the construction of district office complex in Padil is not a good idea. The land apart from 478 trees, has birds and animals of different species. Also, that shifting a DC office from a city to outskirts of the city will be inconvenient for citizens. NGO’s and activists should fight to stop the felling of trees and that DC office should be built at a more convenient location.
– About the destruction of Fish and other Water Creatures through unscientific Fishing is going out of control. Traditional fishing is like harvesting and the best way to catch fish, where the fishing nets are made in such a way that baby fishes can escape through the net holes and only adult fishes are trapped. But the modern fishing methods named “pursing” are killing all fish, where nearly 79% of the fish population is destroyed. Seems like fishing is carried out in DK throughout the year, in spite of fishing ban for few months. Nobody is keeping a watch on this activity because bribe and corruption plays an important role. This needs to be stopped immediately.
– The alarming levels of destruction of the cattle population in the Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Madikeri and other parts of the state are in the course of the last few years wherein 74% of the cattle population has been destroyed through cattle dacoity which is now at an alarming level. Illegal trafficking and slaughter of cows are on the rise-cows/calves are being tortured and transported in small congested vehicles, which is a clear sign of cruelty to animals, but nothing has been done so far. Even though nearly 20 to 30 thousand of cattle have been transported and slaughtered illegally, but there has been not one conviction so far. Although India is the largest exporter of beef, but none of the cattle has been raised or bred in a farm-all the cattle used for meat have been picked from streets where they graze throughout the year. Also, we have been shipping lots of meat to Arab countries – but why feed these people in Gulf and Western Countries?
“The one best idea to stop all this illegal slaughter and other issues pertaining to the cow subject is to promote the habits of consuming vegetarian food, which has been already promoted in Western countries. If more people get addicted to veg food than there would be less consuming of meat, including beef. Even though the authorities know that nearly 5-8 thousand of cattle is being smuggled from Karnataka to Kerala, nothing much has been done to stop it. If our border cops are crooked and corrupt what more do you expect? I think if more people go vegetarian it would solve more of this cattle issue” said Saldanha.
– The insanity that has been let loose on our roads resulting in the most horrifying number of deaths and injuries that have now put Dakshina Kannada at the No.1 Position for Road Accidents in the country. Our traffic authority gives a damn to the safety of the motorists and pedestrians. They only wake up when there is an accident or death to fix the traffic related issue. Look at the dilapidated roads and huge potholes in the City-they are like the death traps. But does any of our politicians whom you all voted or the district administration authorities care about it-no way! Citizens should raise their voices and fight to see that the roads are safe to travel.
– Now that we see and hear about the headlines news pertaining to the suicide of DySP Ganapathi, but I want to bring to your notice that during the 2008 church attacks in Mangaluru, the SP then Satish, ACP Jayanth Shetty and SI Ganapathi (who committed suicide lately) who were in charge during that time didn’t do a damn thing rather than showed hatred towards Catholics- under their leadership, a Catholic Church in Permanur near Ullal got attacked where the police officers ransacked the alter, attacked the priest, created ruckus inside the church, attacked the faithful and so on; and also the same year these police officials even attacked the nuns at the school near Kulshekar Church. But nowhere cases have been registered, and even if they were filed, they were not followed up and eventually were dropped. How can we trust our own law enforcement officials when they don’t protect us. Nearly Rs 60 crore is being spent by the government on the police department-but what’s the use if these comrades can’t protect us. Something needs to be done to straighten up our law enforcement department, if not we will not be safe under these cops.
– I strongly urge that any new multi-storeyed or flats that come up in the city, they need to be made to have compulsory rain-water harvesting system. With all these buildings coming up in every nook and corner, how can they ever depend on MCC water? And we saw the drastic situation when DK and Mangaluru ran into water scarcity. Trust me, the recycling water is much cleaner and safer than the Corporation water. MCC should be strict and should enforce the law of compulsory rain water harvesting for any new building that sprung in the city – If not Mangaluru will face yet another water scarcity next summer like the one that just happened lately-where the owners of water tankers made huge sums of money. Don’t let this happen again.
When asked about what he had to say about charging or arresting the said persons in the suicide note left behind by DySP Ganapathi, for which Saldanha said, “If this case had come to me I would not have taken any quick decision, but would have acted appropriately and convicted the guilty after proper investigation by CID or CBI. This case should be studied very carefully and investigated very thoroughly before convicting anyone”.
About Justice Michael Francis Saldanha:
Michael Francis Saldanha (born 13 February 1942), popularly known as M. F. Saldanha, is an Indian judge and former Justice of the Bombay High Court. Although retired from official duty, he conducted a vigorous investigation into the 2008 attacks on Christians in southern Karnataka and was outspoken against the protests and published a report in early 2011 investigating the attacks on Christian institutions and people, written up after he visited 413 locations, examined 673 witnesses and 2,114 victims of the attacks. He was strongly critical of the state government and police in his Saldanha Commission report and described the attacks as “state-sponsored terrorism” and concluded that “the attacks and incidents which took place were instigated and pre-planned. They were not only supported by the state but were also covered up for by the state.” He was also critical of the official Bharatiya Janata Party government investigation and report into the attacks by B. K. Somasekhara, given that he said there was photographic and video evidence of police misconduct which the government commission had not identified.