Kerala Assembly passes resolution requesting Centre to exempt inhabited places from ESZ notification

The resolution was moved in the wake of a Supreme Court order of June 3 directing that each protected forest, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, must have an ESZ of one kilometre.

Published: 07th July 2022 04:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th July 2022 04:24 PM   |  A+A-

Kerala assembly

Kerala assembly (Photo | Vincent Pulickal, EPS)

By PTI

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Centre to exempt inhabited places and agricultural lands in the state while implementing the one km wide eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around forests and sanctuaries as directed by the Supreme Court.

In the resolution, which was moved by Kerala Forest Minister A K Saseendran, the government said that in view of the peculiar circumstances in the southern state -- which has a population density of over 900 persons per sq km and limited amount of habitable land -- there was a need to completely exempt inhabited places and agricultural areas from the ESZ.

In the resolution, it has been requested that the central government take necessary steps, including legal remedies or framing of legislation, and issue a notification regarding the ESZ as recommended by the state government.

The resolution was moved in the wake of a Supreme Court order of June 3 directing that each protected forest, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, must have an ESZ of one km and banning of mining activities within such parks across the nation.

The apex court had said that no permanent structure will be allowed within such zones and said if the local law or other rules provide for an ESZ of more than one km then the earlier provision would continue to apply.

The apex court ruling has led to protests in the state, especially in its high range districts of Idukki, Wayanad, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, where various political and farmers' groups have organised hartals.

Prior to introduction of the resolution in the House, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state assembly V D Satheesan said it was unfair the resolution was moved today by the government when a similar motion, by Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan, was scheduled to be taken up in the House on Friday.

He said that while the opposition was in support of such a resolution, the manner in which it has been moved was against the House' established practices.

Saseendran said the resolution was to be moved on Wednesday, but could not be as the session was called off for that day in view of the situation prevailing in the House at the time.

He also admitted that it was not discussed with the opposition, but said that since it was very urgent as the Supreme Court vacation would end this week and therefore, prior to that the request had to be sent to the central government for it to timely place it before the apex court.

Speaker M B Rajesh agreed that what had happened was against the established practices of the House, but allowed the resolution to be presented as both sides were in favour of it.

After the resolution was presented, the opposition suggested some changes or amendments, including mentioning that the earlier cabinet decision of the state of 2019 on implementing a 0 to 1 km ESZ is being or would be withdrawn.

Satheesan said that if the earlier cabinet decision was not withdrawn by way of another cabinet decision, the prior one will remain in effect and therefore, the resolution passed by the Assembly would not have the desired effect.

He said it would be a mistake not to withdraw the earlier decision or mention in the resolution the state's intention to withdraw it.

However, Saseendran rejected the suggestion saying it was only a request to the central government where such things need not be mentioned.

He also declined to accept most of the other suggested amendments to the resolution.

Subsequently, the resolution was unanimously passed by the House by a show of hands.

The apex court's June 3 order came on a batch of applications filed in a pending PIL of 1995 and they raised two sets of issues with the first one related to mining activities in and around Jamua Ramgarh, a wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan.

The second set of issues was related to prescribing ESZs surrounding the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.



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