The State Government has constituted a three-member committee to firm up its stand on the Kasturirangan-led High-level Working Group (HLWG) report. The committee will have State Biodiversity Board chairman Oommen V Oommen as its chairman. The other members of the committee are V N Rajasekharan Pillai, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) and P C Cyriac, former chairman, Rubber Board.
The committee will seek opinions from farmers’ organisations, environmentalists and people’s representatives from the regions that will be affected once the Kasturirangan report is implemented. The state had earlier decided to raise objections to the Kasturirangan panel’s recommendations which are against the interests of the state. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had earlier said after a meet to discuss the issue that Kerala had not totally rejected the report, but was against the demarcation of ecologically-sensitive areas. It was pointed out that as many as 123 villages are included in ecologically-sensitive areas which is 33.72 percent of the geographical area of the state. The state also plans to circulate the HLWG report’s Malayalam version to all the 123 villages.
‘Vote bank politics’
The Syro-Malabar Laity Commission has flayed the political leadership for its vote bank politics even when handling serious issues like Gadgil - Kasthurirangan panel reports on Western Ghats.
In a press release issued in Kottayam on Wednesday, Laity Commission sectary V C Sebastian alleged that political parties in the state are busy plotting political dramas and contriving strategies to make vote banks ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, even when the mercury of concerns of thousands of people raises over the anti-people recommendations drafted in the reports for Western Ghats conservation. “The decision of the all-party meeting, held a couple of days ago, to go ahead with talks and studies on issues pertaining to Western Ghats which has been prevailing for more than three years, cannot not be taken at face value,” he said.