Kerala Cabinet on Monday decided to set up an expert committee to suggest alternatives to recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.

The committee will have representatives of the Water Resources, Power, Forests, Fisheries and Environment departments and institutions studying subjects such as environment and biodiversity.

Announcing the decision after a special meeting of the Cabinet, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that the government was cognizant of the need to protect environment. However the recommendations of the panel headed by Madhav Gandgil were impractical in the Kerala context. Hence the decision to set up a committee of experts to look for alternatives.

The Chief Minister said that he had already conveyed to the Union Minister of Environment and Forests his government’s objections to the recommendations of the panel. “The report of the panel could not be accepted in anyway.”

Mr. Chandy said that the government wanted to take up the Athirappally hydroelectric project in a manner that would cause the least damage to the environment. Mitigative measures could be taken to limit the damage.

The Chief Minster said that he would be convening a conference of representatives of organisations of tribals and people’s representatives on June 14 to discuss the tribal land issue.

Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Caste Development P. K. Jayalakshmi had held talks with the tribals in Wayanad who had encroached upon government land. They had agreed to desist from further encroachments and withdraw from encroached areas subject to an agreement with the government.

The conference was being convened to resolve the issue. The Ministers for Revenue, Home, Forest, and Scheduled Tribes Welfare would attend.