Kerala breathes easy as Nov 16 green notification withdrawn

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 20 : Kerala Friday welcomed the central environment ministry's move to withdraw the "vague" order on the G.Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats and replace it with one which has more clarity.

Speaking to IANS, Kerala State Biodiversity Board chairman Oommen V.Oommen, who also headed the three-member committee, set up by the state government, to interact with all concerned on the Kasturirangan report, said the new notification is clear and addresses all the fears raised by a cross section of people upset with the earlier Nov 16 notification.

The Nov 16 order was interpreted across the state as one which if implemented, would end normal farming activities in 123 villages of the state and give more significance to the environment than human beings.

The order was particularly resented in the hilly district of Idukki and Wayanad as well as the hill areas in Kozhikode and Kannur districts.

"One of the demands that the state government raised with MoEF was that the 123 villages that have been declared as ecologically sensitive areas will have to be physically verified. The previous order was based on assessing these areas using satellite imagery.

"They (the central ministry) have now clarified that the final notification will be issued after the boundary of the 123 villages has been fine tuned after receiving inputs from stakeholders and state governments," said Oommen who was recently in Delhi and met the central environment ministry officials on the issue.

The new order, according to Oommen, also has categorically made it clear that there would not be any fresh restrictions on land use in these 123 villages nor do they in any way impact the continued occupation of land in possession of the local people and affect their day to day activities or normal livelihood.

"It's also clear that there would be no prohibition or restriction of any normal activities relating to agricultural activities," said Oommen.

The Catholic church also came down heavily on the Nov 16 order and so did Kerala Congress-Mani - the third biggest constituent - of the Congress-led state government, both of which have a huge following in these districts.

"We welcome the new order and our efforts have paid off," said state Finance Minister K.M.Mani, who heads the KC-M.

--IANS (Posted on 21-12-2013)

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