Government accepts Opposition demand for discussion in Assembly

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Tuesday that the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) headed by Madhav Gadgil was unrealistic and had failed to take the living conditions in the State into account.

Responding to a submission by Idukki MLA Roshi Augustine, he said the government feared the recommendations of the panel would impose restrictions on development activities.

Terming the zonation proposed by the committee a serious issue, he said five other States had opposed the report on the same grounds.

“There is no difference in view on the need to protect the environment but it is a fact that the proposed zonation is flawed and unrealistic. The Government of Kerala has already voiced its protest. We are waiting to present more of our views on the issue.”

Responding to a suggestion from Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, Mr.Chandy said the government was open to a discussion on the WGEEP report in the Assembly.

Earlier, raising the issue, Mr.Augustine said the proposal of the panel to classify Idukki as a Zone 1 area had led to public concern all over the district. “There had been no discussions with people’s representatives so far. The people fear that the implementation of the report would impose severe restrictions on land use, affecting housing projects, agriculture and development activities. Construction of new roads and check-dams, quarrying and sand-mining will become impossible and the impact will be felt on the tourism sector.”

Calling on the government to reject the WGEEP report, he said it went against the interests of the State. “The panel had not sought the opinion of the State government on the proposal for zonation.”

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the WGEEP report would have a long-term impact on the development of the State.