A committee, led by James Varghese, Environment Secretary, has been asked to examine if any changes should be made to the State government’s stand on the report submitted by the panel.

Kerala has started reassessing the impact the implementation of the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) will have on its development agenda.

A committee, led by James Varghese, Environment Secretary, has been asked to examine if any changes should be made to the State government’s stand on the report submitted by the panel, headed by Madhav Gadgil, eminent ecologist. The committee will take stock of the possible impact, Mr. Varghese said.

Its first meeting will be held on Friday.

The State government had earlier castigated the report as “draconian,” and opposed most of its recommendations, including the zonation of the Western Ghats regions based on ecological sensitivity scores and the formation of a Western Ghats ecology authority. The government has urged the Centre to leave the job of conservation to it rather than entrusting it to an authority.

The members of the new committee are the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment; the Principal Secretaries of Power and Water Resources departments; and the chairmen of the Kerala State Electricity Board and the Kerala State Biodiversity Board.

Panel members

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forest; the directors of the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, and the Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur; the Executive Director of the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management; and the Member Secretary (Generation) of the Electricity Board are on the committee.

The committee has not been set a deadline to submit its report. Discussions will be confined to the official level, with no public debates planned, Mr. Varghese said.

The Forest Department and most government agencies consulted by the State government on the recommendations had opposed them. The Electricity Board had accused the panel of “acting with a closed mind and being under the influence of other agencies.”

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