Forest Minister K B Ganesh Kumar said that the World Heritage site status for Western Ghats had brought in immense opportunities for the state. The new status will help the state to claim more Central and even United Nation’s Fund for the conservation of the Western Ghats, he told the Assembly on Tuesday while replying to the demands for grants for forest portfolio.
The Minister said that the government could accept the good aspects in the Madhav Gadghil Committee report. He pointed out that there was some practical problems in implementing the report completely as it would require the state to relocate human habitats including that of tribals. In Kerala’s context, it would not be feasible as there are over 45 panchayats lying within the limit of the forests.
He also said that for conserving the bio-diversity of Munnar, Rs 400 crore project aided by UNDP would be implemented. He said that the Gadghil Committee report had called for demolishing dams and stopping of all construction works, which could not be accepted.
He said that problems of the people residing in the vicinity of the forests also have to be considered.
Referring to the man-animal conflicts, he said that the compensation provided to the people who gets injured in the attack by animals would be hiked. The compensation for crop-loss would be hiked to Rs 1 lakh a year from Rs 50,000. For permanent disability caused by animal attack, Rs 1 lakh would be given as compensation. For single deformity, compensation will be increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000, the Minister said. The Forest Development Corporation will be entrusted to erect solar fencing at the locations where animals used to attack people and destroy crops. Rs 6.25 crore will be sanctioned for Wayanad district alone. ENS
He said that during the last one year, his department could settle 40,000 out of the 1.85 pending files. He said that the department was planning to appoint 700 forest watchers from the tribal communities. Those who have been working as watchers for the past 20 years are yet to be made permanent. Posts have to be made.
On July 14, the Chief Minister will distribute around 700 acres of land to the tribals in Wayanad. Eco Development Committee will launch its own vehicles at Vithura, Tholikode and Kuttichal as part of the eco-tourism projects.
Social Forestry Project at rain shadow regions of Idukki, cardamom plantation for tribals at Elamalakutty in Munnar, micro chip for protecting sandal woods and fire force facility for Forest Department are also on the anvil, he said.