M. A. Parthasarathy helped 'internationalize' the Save Silent Valley campaign of the 1970s
Posted on: 16 Jan 2013
Bangalore: M.A Parthasarathy, who passed away here on January 5, was a life -long champion for conservation -- be it natural tracts like the Silent Valley or the Kolkata wetlands, or urban heritage sites like Bangalore's many historic structures.
A postgraduate science degree holder from Notre Dame University in the US, Parthasarathy came from a long line of distinguished civil servants – his father M.A. Sreenivasan was a minister in the princely state of Mysore and later, Dewan of Gwalior state.
He himself represented the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in South India for decades, a position that he leveraged, to assist many Indian conservation efforts with strong support.
Among the numerous campaigns where he steered WWF support, the most celebrated was probably the effort on the 1970s, to save the Silent Valley tropical forest in Kerala from inundation by a proposed hydroelectric project.
Well known environmentalist Prof. M.K Prasad who was the public face of the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP) during its 'Save Silent Valley' campaign recalled: 'MAP was of great help to us in taking our struggle beyond Kerala and making it a global concern. The prestige of the WWF that he skilfully deployed on our behalf, ensured that the central government then headed by Mrs Indira Gandhi, received appeals from a host of international organizations to save the Valley… and she did just that'.
Parthasarathy co authored numerous works on the flora and fauna of his home state, Karnataka, including a work on The Trees of Bangalore, jointly with Prof Madhav Gadgil.
As a member of the High Power Committee set up by the Karnataka Government in 1986 on the 'Beautification of Bangalore and later as Chairman of the Bangalore Urban Arts Commission (BUAC), Parthasarathy was tireless in his efforts to preserve the city's many historic heritage sites from destruction in the name of development. The Mayo Hall dating back to 1904 and the red brick 'Attara Kacheri' built in 1868 and still housing the Karnataka High Court, were two heritage buildings that survive today, thanks to the strong campaign launched by Parthasarathy and his fellow members of the BUAC.
Ironically his own ancestral home a heritage home name 'Hamsini' overlooking the Sankey Lake, was inundated -- and marooned the family for days -- after the Bangalore Corporation broke a bund protecting it, to widen the lake in a controversial operation in 2005.
Parthasarathy was one of those honoured by inclusion in the 'Global 500' list during the UN-sponsored 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference on Sustainable Development for his two-decade work in conservation. He was also honoured with the 'Order of the Golden Arc', established by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. to recognize global nature conservation efforts. (END OF MATTER
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