Gadgil takes his Western Ghats crusade to Wikipedia

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Gadgil takes his Western Ghats crusade to Wikipedia

Frederick Noronha
http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/gadgil-takes-his-western-ghats-crusade-to-wikipedia/article8013203.ece

Updated: December 21, 2015 05:39 IST
Gadgil takes his Western Ghats crusade to Wikipedia
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   -
   - [image: Prof Gadgil and his team are looking at a bilingual approach
   for wider reach, writing in the Marathi Wikipedia to begin with —file
   photos: K Murali Kumar and Paul Noronha]
   Prof Gadgil and his team are looking at a bilingual approach for wider
   reach, writing in the Marathi Wikipedia to begin with —file photos: K
   Murali Kumar and Paul Noronha

Wants others to contribute too

With the Centre and successive State governments in Maharashtra dumping his
crucial report on the conservation of Western Ghats, ecologist Madhav
Gadgil has now turned to Wikipedia to record his findings and present his
solutions.

Prof Gadgil was feted with the prestigious 2015 Tyler Prize for
Environmental Achievement in March for penning the landmark report on the
preservation of the unique ecosystem of the Western Ghats and the inclusion
of local committees. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had
announced that it was ‘not processing’ the Western Ghats Ecology Expert
Panel (WGEEP) report for any further action.

Some of the content of Prof Gadgil’s comprehensive Wikipedia ‘exposition’
on the Western Ghats will be crowd-sourced, where people are free to
contribute and add to articles already uploaded.

The ecologist has chosen Wikipedia owing to the lack of advertisements on
the site and most importantly, out of government control, which will allow
him considerable latitude in revealing his researches on the actual state
of affairs.

“This is real democratisation of data wherein we shall be dealing with
issues like illegal sand and stone mining, deforestation, while putting up
photos. Moreover, we will be uploading extensive information about several
villages, their social parameters, and the problems the villagers face,”
said Prof Gadgil, adding that credible references from a variety of
sources, including newspapers and research articles, would constitute the
‘base’ article to which citizens could contribute their own observations.

“People can add a variety of problems threatening the ecosystem,
unpalatable facts that the government conveniently ignores. This would help
create a permanent record,” he said.

On the use of Wikipedia to deal with civic issues, he points to analogous
examples in western countries where promises made by political candidates
have been juxtaposed with the actuals delivered in the public domain.

At present, Prof Gadgil has uploaded information on villages affected by
the pollution of the Panchaganga and its tributaries.

“We have already written about two villages: Parite and Haldi. The base
article on Haldi has information about its sewage being flown into the
river, which leads to gastric diseases. Now, people can add to that
environmental, social, or other issues that they feel are a priority, along
with evidence and references,” said Subodh Kulkarni, an environment
activist, who is part of the project.

Prof Gadgil and his team are looking at a bilingual approach for wider
reach, writing in the Marathi Wikipedia to begin with. The articles will
then be translated into English. For crowd-sourcing, they are training
local communities to write in the Wikipedia format.

Parineeta Dandekar, associate coordinator of the South Asia Network for
Dams, Rivers and People, said data from government agencies is dubious,
just like that of the pollution control board for river pollution.

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_/  Frederick Noronha  http://about.me/noronhafrederick http://goa1556.in
_/  P +91-832-2409490 M 9822122436 Twitter @fn Fcbk:fredericknoronha
_/  Hear Goa,1556 shared audio content at
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