The Kerala Congress (M) has debunked the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report (Gadgil committee report) by pointing out flaws in its suggestions relating to the State.
In a memorandum submitted on Saturday to a working group headed by K. Kasturirangan, Member (Science), Planning Commission, the Kerala Congress (M) questioned the rationale of the Gadgil panel recommendations on non-conversion of public land into private property, monoculture plantations, and construction of roads only after Environment Impact Assessment study.
The memorandum, submitted by party functionaries Francis George and Mathew Stephan, said the distribution of title deeds to settlers in the high ranges of the State would be hindered.
The people in these areas, especially in Idukki district, had settled there as part of the government-sponsored ‘Grow more food programme’ after the Second World War. There was an all-party decision in Kerala, approved by the Union government, that all settlers prior to January 1, 1997, should be given title deeds.
Similarly, the restriction proposed on monoculture would affect the traditional plantation crops of the State such as coffee, rubber, and cardamom, which were the mainstay of the State’s agriculture economy.
With regard to eco-sensitive zoning, the memorandum said the main drawback of zoning as far as Kerala was concerned was that it had been carried out without considering the special problems of the State with regard to land use, population, and socio-economic factors.
The yardstick for deciding an area as part of Western Ghats was more stringent for Kerala compared to that for all other Western Ghats States. Any place above 150 metres in altitude was categorised under Western Ghats in the Kerala section, whereas it was above 500 metres for other States.