THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Commenting on the government’s decision to give subdivision survey numbers to forest land encroachments, poet B Sugathakumari said that no Ministry’s decision, including that of Oommen Chandy’s, is above law. She was inaugurating a seminar on TSR Subramanian Committee report at the State Central Library Hall.
She said that the decision supports the encroachments which happened since the late 70’s. While the central government is trying to appease the corporates, the state government giving in to political influences was a more imminent threat. She said that, despite the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act (1980), 20 lakh hectares of forest land has been used for non-forest activites since 1980.
She said that, through TSR Subramanian Committee Report, one can see the Centre’s efforts to help giant corporates and give away mining land in North India to industries. She mentioned that tribals living in a dense forest area, which she had visited years ago, are currently, full of Maoists. While she would not justify the Maoist movement, she was not surprised about its surge. When one’s land, livelihood and jungle is replaced with the machines of corporates, the rise of a movement like Maoism is expected, she said. She added that in Kerala too, the government has forgotten the tribals. Only the court can stop such decisions taken at the government level.
At the seminar, anxieties about the TSR Subramanian Committee report, continued to loom, even though it was recently rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology and Forests. The committee was formed to fast track environment clearances for industries.
The parliamentary standing committee chaired by Congress MP Ashwani Kumar has diluted six environment laws. These include the Environment Protection Act, Forest Conservation Act, Wildlife Protection Act, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and Indian Forest Act.
T P Kunhikkannan, former State President, Sastra Sahitya Parishad, introduced the seminar’s topic. He said that even though the report was rejected, a new committee formed under the present government could come out with a similar report. Organised by Kerala Forest Protective Staff Association State Committee, seminar was presided over by K Jayakumar, President, KFPSA. Former Minister for Forest Binoy Vishwam was among the dignitaries present.