Kerala Assembly urges Centre to intervene in ESZ issue

Forest minister moves resolution, says exemption needed owing to peculiar situation in state that has high population density

Published: 08th July 2022 03:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th July 2022 03:17 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state legislative assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday requesting the Centre to exempt inhabited areas and agricultural lands in the state from the Supreme Court-mandated 1-km wide eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around forests and sanctuaries.

The resolution, moved by Forest Minister A K Saseendran, said such an exemption was needed owing to the peculiar situation in the state that has a population density of over 900 persons per sq km and a limited amount of habitable land. It urged the Centre to explore legal remedies or enact legislation and issue a notification regarding the ESZ as recommended by the state government.

The Supreme Court had on June 3 directed that protected forests, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, should have an ESZ of one km. The apex court had also said that no permanent structure should come up within such zones. The apex court ruling had triggered protests in high-range districts such as Idukki and Wayanad.

The Opposition on its part suggested a few amendments, including mentioning in the resolution that the 2019 cabinet decision of the state to implement an ESZ of up to one km, should be withdrawn. Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan said that if the earlier cabinet decision was not withdrawn, the previous one will remain in effect. This will render the assembly resolution ineffective, he said. However, Saseendran rejected the suggestion saying the resolution was a request to the central government where such points need not be mentioned.

Satheesan also said it was unfair that the government moved the resolution at a time when a similar motion by Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan was scheduled to be taken up in the assembly on Friday. Admitting that the resolution was moved without proper discussions with the Opposition, Saseendran stressed the urgency of moving it to protect the state’s interests. While acknowledging that the government moving the resolution in such a manner was against the established practices of the assembly, Speaker M B Rajesh allowed it to be presented as both sides were in favour of it.

Unanimous move

900
persons per sq km is the state’s population density
Resolution urges the Centre to explore legal remedies or enact legislation and issue a notification regarding the ESZ as recommended by the state government
The Opposition suggests a few amendments, including mentioning in the resolution that the 2019 cabinet decision of the state to implement an ESZ of up to one km, should be withdrawn.



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