Don't panic over order on Kasturirangan report: Oommen Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 14 : The union government's order on the G. Kasturirangan committee report on recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel (WGEEP) was no cause for panic, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Thursday.

"We have appointed a three-member committee to study the report by speaking to all the stakeholders in our state. They will be doing their job, and once they submit their report, we will again approach the centre," Chandy said in a press release issued here Thursday night.

"The MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) order that was issued clearly states that the one that has come out today is not final, and what came out today will stand only till the next one comes out," Chandy said.

The MoEF Thursday came out with the order, and according to directions under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, bars mining in ecologically fragile areas, setting up of thermal plants and restricts buildings to less than 20,000 sq ft in 123 villages mentioned in the K. Kasturirangan report of the state.

As soon as this order came out, a panic button was pressed and the Left opposition has called for a shutdown in Idukki district, which, according to them, would be the most affected if the Kasturirangan committee report is implemented.

Ever since Madhav Gadgil submitted the WGEEP 2011 to the union Ministry of Environment and Forests last year, numerous organisations in the state, including the Catholic Church, were up in arms.

Among the key recommendations were inclusion of the categorisation of the Western Ghats in three zones of varied ecological sensitivity, with broad guidelines for each of these zones, besides a framework for the establishment of a Western Ghats Ecological Authority, with adequate legal and administrative powers.

And above all that, if the recommendations were implemented in toto, districts like Wayanad and Idukki will see no human population at all.

Following the huge outcry from six states which would see far reaching implications if the Gadgil committee report was to be implemented, the centre deputed Planning Commission member Kasturirangan to make an on-the-spot visit to two districts in Kerala.

After Kasturirangan submitted his report, the Kerala government breathed easy, as it took a much more lenient stand, compared to the Gadgil report.

"We will certainly approach the centre if there is need for any change, and there is no need for panic," Chandy said.

--IANS (Posted on 14-11-2013)

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