Western Ghats
 report rocks Kerala house

A fresh assertion made by federal government before the National Green Tribunal over ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) identified by Kasturirangan panel led to unruly scenes in the Kerala Assembly on Wednesday.

By T K Devasia

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Published: Thu 30 Jan 2014, 8:58 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 12:56 AM

Members of opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) stormed the well of the house and disrupted proceedings after their notice for an adjournment motion over the pro-Kasthurirangan panel stand the Ministry of Environment and Forest took with regard to 123 ecologically sensitive villages in the state.

Speaker G Karthikeyan adjourned the house for an hour after the agitated members swarmed his podium. They allowed the house to resume proceedings only after the government agreed to hold a debate on Thursday.

An agreement in this regard was reached during the consultations the Speaker had with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan.

The notice for the adjournment motion given by deputy leader of opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was rejected after Chandy asserted that a final decision on ecologically sensitive villages will be taken only after consultations with the states.

Replying to the notice, he said there was no ground for anxiety over the Ministry of Environment’s submission before the Green Tribunal. He said the state government was committed to protecting the interest of farmers in the region and was confident that state would succeed in getting necessary modifications in the report. In his notice, Balakrishnan alleged that the government had failed to protect interest of farmers, who were living under the fear of an ‘undeclared eviction’ threat in the 123 ESA villages. He wanted the “anti-farmer” recommendations in the report to be deleted and demarcation of 123 villages as ESA reviewed.

Achuthanandan accused the government of betraying the people living in the Western Ghat region. He said that the new development had confounded the anxiety of the people in the high ranges. It is contrary to the assurance that the Kasturirangan report would be implemented only after considering the state’s views.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also assured that the report would not be implemented without considering the concerns of the people.

An expert committee, appointed by the Kerala government, to study the report in detail, had termed the Kasthurirangan panel report anti-people and recommended changes in the clauses related to environmentally fragile land.

The panel noted that most of these villages identified by the Kasthurirangan panel were agricultural and thickly populated areas. This evoked a series of agitations in the state that sometimes culminated into violent incidents.

The agitations spearheaded by the High Range Protection Committee turned violent in Calicut, Idukki and Wayanad districts. Thamarassery Forest office in Wayanad district was set on fire by a section of the agitators.


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