State to set up Wildlife Board to avoid ‘damnation’
By Anil S | Published: 22nd November 2012 11:50 AM |
The dilly-dallying of the state government on the setting up of the state wildlife board is proving to be another setback for the efforts to construct a new dam at Mullaperiyar. Concerned over the delay, a high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday decided to set up the board immediately and convene its first meeting by next Wednesday.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Kerala in the dam dispute before the Supreme Court, has reportedly communicated his concerns over Kerala’s delay in carrying out the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for the new dam, which is possible only if the state wildlife board is formed. In a written communication to the state government, advocate Mohan Katarki said the delay in these tasks could adversely affect the case when it comes up before the apex court.
Carrying out the EIA, a preliminary step towards a new dam, has been delayed for months now as it needs a five-level clearance - the state Forest Department, State Wildlife Board, National Wildlife Board, SC-appointed Empowered Panel on Forests and finally the Ministry of Environment and Forests. With the state failing to formulate the wildlife board so far, the EIA has been pending.
According to sources, the Forest Minister’s office had cleared setting up of the board about one-and-a-half months ago. “As per the rules, the board should have an official representing the Defence Ministry. During the last board, it was an official in the rank of a commander. Now, the state government has sent the request for the same to the Centre. But due to various reasons, that is still under consideration. Constituting a state wildlife board is the next big step towards constructing a new dam,” sources said.
Wednesday’s meeting, attended by Water Resources Minister P J Joseph, Forest Minister Ganesh Kumar and top officials with the Water Resources and Forest Depts, decided to urgently formulate the board and convene its meeting.
“Absence of a State Wildlife Board has been a hindrance for carrying out the EIA. Hence we have decided to constitute the board within a week,” said Joseph.