Kerala to approach Centre on Kasturirangan report Kerala to approach Centre on Kasturirangan report As per the Kasthurirangan report a total of 13, sq km areas that included stretches in villages were demarcated as EFL. This was stated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the Assembly while calling attention to the necessity to exert pressure on the Centre to exclude populated areas, agriculture land and plantation regions from the final notification of the EFL areas based on Kasthurirangan report. The state would take necessary steps to preserve and protect the As per the Kasthurirangan report a total of 13, sq km areas that included stretches in villages were demarcated as EFL. Following protest and agitation from the local people, the state assembly unanimously passed a resolution in January asking the Centre to exempt populated, agriculture and plantation ares from the ambit of EFL.
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On November 13, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests MoEF directed six states, including Kerala, spanning the Western Ghats, to ban environment-damaging activities in villages identified as ecologically-sensitive areas by the Kasturiangan Committee.
These environment-damaging activities include mining, quarrying, construction of thermal plants and red-category highly-polluting industries and construction of buildings spread over more than 2, sq metre and townships spanning more than 50 hectares. In Kerala, the committee has identified villages across 12 of the 14 districts as eco-sensitive areas.
Most of these villages are thickly populated. This is the reason for widespread apprehensions among people that implementation of the Kasturiangan Committee recommendations will lead to displacement of hundreds of families from these villages. Panic led to violent protests Resentment turned into violence on November 15 in Kannur and Kozhikode districts, where protesters stoned government vehicles and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses and set fire to a forest office at Vilangad in Kozhikode.
In Thamarassery, an angry mob gheraoed the district superintendent of police SP and deputy SP and set ablaze a police jeep. They also attacked the vehicles of some Malayalam TV channels and damaged the cameras. Several people and 20 police persons were injured during the clash. The police fired bullets into the air to disperse the mob and have registered cases. More than 60 eco-sensitive villages fall in these districts. The Left is going ahead with agitations despite assurances from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy that nobody will be evicted from upland areas.
The chief minister had also appealed the Left not to spread unnecessary fears and withdraw the agitations, saying that the Union minister of state for environment and forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, had assured that the Centre would consider the concerns raised by all the states.
Earlier on October 21, LDF had boycotted the all-party meeting convened by the chief minister to discuss how the Kasturirangan Committee report would affect the state. The Kerala government had appointed a three-member committee to study the impact of the report.
Section of church leads protest A section of the church in the state is backing the agitations. The Catholic Church is strongly opposing the report, saying it is anti-farmers and, if implemented, it would affect the livelihood of farmers.
It also says that many farmers who have settled in the high ranges are yet to get title deeds and implementation of the report will affect title deeds. The letter issued by Bishop Mar Remigios Inchananiyil demands withdrawal of the decision to implement the report. It states that as part of intensifying the protests, rallies and dharnas would be organised under the aegis of the Pashchimaghatta Jana Samrakshana Samithi Western Ghats People Protection Committee on November The church denounced unnecessary agitations including hartal over the issue, the statement read.
Industry hand? Adivasi and dalit organisations in Kerala have also strongly opposed the agitations. This has also affected the lives of adivasis and dalits, who have traditionally been living in the high range areas.
According to Kapikad, the Left does not have a strong base among the settled farmers. Many of the newspapers and channels in the state highlight the agitations while they fail to voice the concerns of adivasis and the dalit communities who want conservation of the Western Ghats. Kapikad says adivasi-dalit communities want the government to implement the Gadgil report, which has made more stringent recommendations to conserve the Western Ghats.
The deluge claimed human lives, lives of innumerable other living beings and caused damage of over Rs. The state witnessed the worst drought of the century in which led to severe water crisis, and a furious cyclone Ockhi in which adversely affected he coastal stretch of the state and the fishing communities, in particular. This is not to speak of the intermittent landslides and sea fury which recur in monsoons every year. These natural disasters highlight the need to have a robust and comprehensive law and policy on disaster management and environment protection. The unique geo-physical characteristic of the state is the natural infrastructure that enables protection from natural disasters, especially in the face of the very real impacts of climate change.
The Gadgil Commission report was criticised for being too environment-friendly. The answer to the question of how to manage and conserve the Ghats will not lie in removing these economic options, but in providing better incentives to move them towards greener and more sustainable practices," the HLWG report says. It had suggested three levels of categorization where regulatory measures for protection would be imposed and had recommended the establishment of the Western Ghats Ecology Authority for management of the Ghats. The member Working Group, headed by Planning Commission member Kasturirangan, has environmental experts and other professionals as its members. Natarajan said that the recommendations would be looked into urgently so that action can be taken to address these challenges. Kasturirangan said, "The message of this report is serious, alarming and urgent. It is imperative that we protect, manage and regenerate the lands now remaining in the Western Ghats as biologically rich, diverse, natural landscapes".
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