Primary-level intervention to check exploitation of resources

The government has empowered panchayat-level Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) to keep tabs on the state of the environment at the local level and report violations of environmental laws and regulations.

A Government Order issued by the Principal Secretary, Environment, has handed down a fresh mandate to the BMCs to alert officials in the department to environmentally disruptive activities. The order translates into a grassroots-level intervention to ensure speedy action against unregulated exploitation of natural resources and arrest the depletion of biodiversity.

Citing the recommendations of the Assembly committee on environment, the order proposes that the BMCs be given the responsibility to act as ‘Environment Protection Groups.’ The committees have been directed to inform the authorities about violations of environmental laws and any activity that could result in ecological degradation, create a public health hazard, or pose a threat to human life. These include unauthorised sand-mining and illegal operation of quarries and development projects. The BMCs will also have to take the leadership to organise health and sanitation programmes. The order instructs the BMCs to restore, protect, and ensure the sustainable utilisation of water resources at the panchayat level. BMCs have been tasked with organising awareness programmes.

They have also been given the mandate to constantly monitor the state of the environment and alert the authorities and recommend conservation activities for inclusion in the panchayats’ annual Plan. The district-level Technical Support Group constituted by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board will extend support to the BMCs to keep tabs on the environment. The order directs the government officials concerned at the local level to initiate timely action on the recommendations of BMCs.