Noted environmentalist M K Prasad passes way

Prof. Prasad had also led the popular science movement, ‘Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath’, which had undertaken campaigns for popularisation of science in everyday life

M.K. Prasad, who had served as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Calicut University, was at the forefront of environmental protection activities in the State. He had played a crucial role in creating public awareness across the State for protecting the verdant forests of Silent Valley during the early 70s.

He had also participated in the ‘Save Silent Valley’ campaign, which is considered as the first popular campaign for protecting a forest ecosystem in the State. Mr. Prasad had also led the popular science movement, ‘Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath’, which had undertaken campaigns for popularisation of science in everyday life.

He had also led the preparation of the People’s Biodiversity Registry in the local bodies of Ernakulam district much before the Kerala State Biodiversity Board taking up the initiative.

Prof. Prasad was earlier infected with COVID. He is survived by his wife Sherly, former Principal of the Ernakulam Maharaja’s College, and two children, Amal and Anjana.

Prof.M.K.Prasad speaking at the Indian Biodiversity Congress held at Pondicherry University at the NGO Conclave

Biography

Professor Manaparambil Koru Prasad is arguably India’s best known evangelist for sane environmental management policy which embraces all sections of society but remains particularly sensitive to the concerns of voiceless millions. Over the last 60 years, he has led campaigns in environment, none more notable than the campaign to save the Silent Valley, India’s last tropical rain forest, during the 1960s and 70s. Indeed he was the visible face the prime motivator of the campaign steered by Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), the people’s science movement which made the environment a concern of lay people in Kerala. Born in 1933, Prasad is a Botanist by qualification with a distinguished academic career including Principal of the Maharajas College Ernakulam, & Pro Vice Chancellor of Calicut University. Later he was the Executive Director of the Information Kerala Mission where he helped the state, to harness information technology to deliver a full slate of citizen friendly e governance services. Prasad has remained a champion and fierce advocate of responsible environment management and his leadership has helped to arrest industrial pollution and create R & D sustainable development projects like the Integrated Rural Technology Centre at Mundur, Kerala. His leadership helped overcome multiple environmental challenges:

  • The environmental problems of Kuttanad due to the Thanneermukkom Bund, constructed to prevent saline water intrusion.
  • The issue of industrial pollution of Moovattupuzha, Chalayar ; Kallada rivers.
  • Pollution by the Gwalior Rayons factory at Mavoor
  • Campaign against illegal felling at Sultan Battery reserve Forests in Wyanad.
  • Campaign against the move to establish Nuclear Plant in Bhooththankettu Reservoir.
  • Campaign on compensation for the victims of Bhopal Gas tragedy.
  • Fight against the proposal of a polluting chemical factory in Kannur.
  • Campaign opposing the Athirappilly project
  • Preparation of Biodiversity Registers for 86 Gram Panchayaths in Ernakulam District, financed by the Ernakulam Jilla Panchayath.

Between 1995and 2000. Prasad was the team leader of KSSP in a multi-institutional project “Carrying Capacity-Based Development Planning for the Greater Kochi Region” sponsored by Ministry of Environment and Forests and implemented by NEERI, Nagpur His reputation and influence extended beyond Kerala. For over five decades he has served with the governing council of Centre for Science and Environment and Centre for Environment Education & represented India in many global forums like the UN supported Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, World Wide Fund of Nature – India and of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-CEC). Successive governments have found in Prof Prasad’s talent to motivate & guide environmental action programs of Union Environment Ministry, Planning Board and Biodiversity Board of Kerala. Prasad’s contribution to national and global discourse on environmental challenges has been acknowledged by many of his associates ( quotes from release of a book honoring MKP in 2013): Padma Vibhushan M.S. Swaminathan:

“Prof Prasad’s life and work have shown the pathway for achieving sustainable and inclusive development. The best tribute we can pay him is to promote a do-ecology approach.”

Padma Shri awardee Kartikeya Sarabhai, Director, Centre for Environment Education:

“What Prof MK Prasad has brought to CEE is the need to be confident and to pursue issues even under criticism.”

Justice V. R Krishna Iyer:

“Dear MKP, the world would have been much different for me if not for people like you”

Dr. Madhav Gadgil:

“M. K. Prasad is a rarity in the community of scientists, someone driven by social concerns and committed to applying his scientific learning to advance the causes he holds dear.”

Walter Reid, Director David and Lucille Packard Foundation Los Altos, USA:

“I am deeply grateful to MK Prasad for his outstanding leadership as a member of the board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. With his deep experience in working at the interface of nature and society, Prof Prasad helped to focus and guide the content of MEA”

Romulus Whitaker, Padma Shri Awardee and Director Madras Crocodile Bank and Snake Park:

Thanks largely to Prof Prasad’s ingenious system of spreading the word via teachers and students, saving Silent Valley grew into India’s first real big standoff between environmentalists and big development.

At age 89, Prof Prasad continued to work till his last breath (modified today) for an environmentally sane society; a role model for young Indians. He has authored numerous books and monographs in Malayalam on environmental issues and popular science and co-authored a techno-economic and socio-political assessment of the Silent Valley Hydro Electric project in 1979.


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