THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after the Centre dumped the Madhav Gadgil recommendations on Western Ghats to adopt a less-opposed Kasturirangan report, Kerala still has major concerns in store.
In stiff opposition to the Kasturirangan-led High Level Working Group (HLWG) report, the state had brought in major amendments to these proposals also. The Union Government, however, is yet to grant final nod to these modifications.
“A delegation from the MoEF has already visited the state and assessed the proposed changes. The modifications have been accepted in-principle and included in the draft notification. Now, an expert team from the MoEF may come for ground-level inspection before finally accepting the changes. As of the now, the state has done whatever it needs to do. Kerala should now push for the implementation of the recommendations suggested by the three-member committee. The state should continue to insist that the Kasturirangan panel recommendations were not suitable for the geo-physical needs of Kerala,’’ Oommen V Oommen told ‘Express’. It has been pointed out that considering issues specific to Kerala such as the availability of land and its industrial climate, Kasturirangan panel recommendations are not suited for the state.
Once the draft notification is out, it takes about 535 days for the final notification to be issued. Interestingly, most of the other states who are also affected by the Western Ghats report, have not proposed any modifications till now. Some states like Goa and Maharashtra had approached Kerala seeking opinions on the issue, said officials.
Kerala had expressed its strong opposition to - first, report by the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) and later recommendations by the Kasturirangan-led High Level Working Group (HLWG). When the Union Environment Ministry under the previous UPA Government decided to go for the Kasturirangan report, there were strong public sentiments in the state against its implementation.
That’s when Kerala Government appointed the Oommen V Oommen committee - a three-member panel under State Biodiversity Board chairman Oommen V Ommen with P C Cyriac and V N Rajasekharan Pillai as other members - to bring in necessary modifications. The Oommen committee recommended that inhabited regions, plantations and farm lands should be excluded from the Ecologically Sensitive Areas. The panel recommended that the government should re-draw the ESA villages. Based on the opinion of the local public and expert analysis, the State Government re-fixed the 123 ESA villages across the state. Cadastral maps of these villages - prepared after reducing the extent of ESAs - with survey numbers have been finalised and sent to the MoEF for its final approval. Later, the Environment Ministry brought out the draft notification on the basis of these changes. With the Environment Ministry on Wednesday informing the National Green Tribunal that it was processing the HLWG report, Kerala is keenly watching the developments in this regard.