‘Implementation of Kasturirangan panel report will hit 40 lakh people in Kerala’

Western Ghats People’s Protection Forum has approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) here seeking to quash the recent notification of Union Ministry of Environment of Forests (MoEF) to implement suggestions of the Kasturirangan panel on Western Ghats conservation.

The forum represented by its chairman P.V.Anvar filed the appeal against the notification issued in November last.

Last April, the High Level Working Group on Western Ghats (HLWG) headed by Dr.Kasturirangan, submitted its report with several suggestions and restrictions in order to preserve the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats. After accepting the recommendations, the Ministry said that another high level committee would be set up to monitor the implementation of the recommendations. The publication of a notification evoked huge protests and agitations in the affected areas especially in the State of Kerala.

Filing the appeal before the NGT, the forum said, “A large section of the population in Kerala is already under a regulatory regime on account of coastal regulatory zone regulations, which restricts their needs such as shelter and other basic amenities for human habitation. Now the MoEF issued notification putting in place further restrictions, which will adversely affect the human habitation in the eastern side of the State as well, which comes under the Western Ghats area.”

As per the report, 123 thickly populated villages in Kerala were included under the ecologically sensitive area (ESA) and would be subjected to the restrictions. Forty lakh people in the State would be affected, if the report is implemented.

“Going by the nature of the recommendations, particularly the development restrictions, the local people are likely to be affected very adversely. Similarly, denying infrastructure development, such as restrictions in constructions will also create hardships to them,” said the forum.

The forum also prayed the Tribunal to set aside the notification issued by the Ministry and subsequent office memorandum on December 20.

The matter is likely to come up for hearing before the Tribunal next week.