State-level panel’s initiative to benefit local bodies, farmers
As a controversy over the notification of the K. Kasturirangan committee’s recommendations on protecting the Western Ghats rages across the State, a ready reckoner on the panel report will be issued to the local bodies in the Ghats region shortly.
A three-member committee appointed by the State government to look into the report will bring out the handbook within two days.
Free of cost
Copies of the booklet, covering important aspects of the recommendations, will be distributed free of cost to the local bodies, organisations of farmers, biodiversity management committees and those interested in the subject, Oommen V. Oommen, chairman of the State-level panel, said.
The panel, which had planned to tour the districts by the Western Ghats, has decided to reschedule them in the wake of the recent developments.
The committee hopes to interact with the people and their representatives in the Ghats areas after helping them form their views on the report.
The booklets will reach the local bodies, organisations and people concerned before the committee’s visit, said Dr. Oommen, who is the Chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board.
The three-member committee has V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Executive Vice-President of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, and P.C. Cyriac, former civil servant, as its members.
The committee’s report will serve as the base document for the State government’s view on the Kasturirangan report, which has to be submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests by early-January. The panel hopes to submit its report to the State government by mid-December.
Originally, the committee was expected to tour Idukki from November 20. However, the plan had to be shelved following the protests in the district. The panel will meet people’s representatives in northern Kerala after November 26.
Backing for WGEEP
A few organisations such as the Hindu Aikya Vedi, the Kerala Nadi Samrakshana Samithi and the Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishat had demanded the implementation of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report in place of the Kasturirangan report.
Demanding the implementation of the WGEEP report, the Nadi Samrakshana Samithi deplored the agitations led by some religious heads, interest groups and some political parties against the report. The WGEEP report envisioned sustainable development and livelihood options for the farmers. It had no reference on evicting farmers from their farmlands, said a statement.
The Vedi demanded action against those who had incited violence after distorting the recommendations of the WGEEP.
A majority of the population of the Ghats region was in favour of implementing its report. The Kasturirangan report was a watered-down version of the WGEEP report, which carried positive suggestions for protecting the environment, the organisation pointed out.