Kerala government has demanded to include compensation packages when implementing recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil Committee report on Western Ghats.
In dissent note addressed to the expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the State Cabinet noted that the Gadgil panel did not consider any compensation packages though its recommendations tended to affect the finances of the State seriously. This was highly disappointing.
It observed that compensation was called for in 20 areas such as ban on plastics, use of green technology, waste management, handling of effluents, water conservation, animal husbandry and organic farming. The Ministry should be drawing up rules for providing compensation.
The Cabinet observed that it was not easy to estimate correctly the expenses needed for implementation of the recommendations of the Gadgil panel. The position now was that the State alone should meet the expenditure.
It remarked that ten Central laws and 29 State laws dealt with environmental protection in the State. These were sufficient for protection of the Western Ghats. The panel had not recommended the Athirappally project on the ground that the area fell in the Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1. However, the project would require cutting of trees on only 61.80 hectares.
It observed that the use of rivers for power general and irrigation was justified in an agrarian State. The dams themselves served certain ecological purposes. Hence, the recommendation that the dams on the Ghats should be decommissioned was disappointing. If existing dams are decommissioned and construction of new dams prohibited, Kerala would face an energy crisis.
The Cabinet expressed concern over the proposal for formation of Western Ghats Ecology Authority. The formation of the proposed Authority would upset established administrative procedures and functioning of the government, and even breach environmental laws.
It noted that the panel had included even the midlands and coastal areas of the State in ecologically sensitive zones and had proposed restrictions on land use. The committee had not specifically examined issues unique to Kerala. Moreover, stringent norms had been specified for Kerala. If Westerns Ghats was mapped above 500 metres in other States, it was 50 metres in Kerala. There were serious inadequacies in demarcation of sensitive areas.