All-party meet to discuss Kasturirangan report: Oommen Chandy

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 20 : A report reflecting the concerns of people about the fallout of the implementation of recommendations of the Kasturirgangan committee on the ecology of the Western Ghats shall be submitted to the Centre, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Wednesday.

The report shall be finalised by an all-party meeting that would discuss the concerns expressed following the submission of the Kasturirgangan committee report, Chandy told media persons here after the weekly cabinet meeting discussed the current situation in the state. A dawn-to-dusk state-wide shutdown was observed Monday to protest the Kasturirangan committee report recommendations

"The state government's committee of experts will now travel to various places in the state and meet all stake-holders, to submit a report to the government. Then there will be an all-party meeting which will finalise the report to be handed over to the Centre, expressing our concerns," Chandy said.

Last week, the union Ministry of Environment and Forests came out with an order which had five conditions applicable to 123 villages in the state. That order prohibits mining, the setting up of thermal plants, and restricts construction of buildings to less than 20,000 square metres.

Under the new order, no township project in these villages can exceed 50 hectares, and industries in the red category cannot be set up in these villages.

As the union government order was made public, all hell broke loose among residents of the areas to which these orders pertained, especially from the hilly district of Idukki and the hill areas of Kozhikode and Kannur districts.

The Left opposition called for a state-wide shutdown to protest the union government order.

"There has been some confusion in the terminology. While 'Ecologically fragile land' falls under the Forest Act, 'ecologically sensitive area' falls within the Environment Act. The Kasturirangan report speaks of only the latter, and hence some confusion is there with the people," said Chandy.

The chief minister also pointed out that the centre is now seized of a lapse that has occurred in its report, because that report was made after conducting a remote sensing survey. Agricultural land located near forest lands too had been classified as 'forest land'.

"This they have realised, and also that there has been an error in calculating the density of population. We have categorically said that no one need fear being evicted. We have decided to take strict action against some government officials who also are playing truant, leaving people in fear," Chandy said.

A special round-the-clock helpline of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board has been opened to aid those with questions about the new report. Hundreds of people have, by now, availed the service of the helpline, the chief minister said.

--IANS (Posted on 20-11-2013)

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